Op-Ed: New MTA Chairman Has a Rough Rail Ahead
Gene Russianoff is a staff attorney and chief spokesperson for the MTA Straphangers Campaign. He has worked for the New York Public Interest Research Group, the Straphangers’ parent organization, since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1978.
Joe Lhota will be taking on one of the toughest jobs in government in one of the harshest economic times in America.
The Straphangers Campaign believes that he has the necessary financial, political and management experience to be a good MTA chairman and CEO. We riders will be counting on him and will judge him on his accomplishments on our behalf.
Millions of riders will be looking to Lhota to maintain and improve the quality of service and to work to keep fares affordable. We also want a vocal and visible advocate for the subways, buses and commuter rail, one who will speak up if the budget cuts are hurting service.
Among the top challenges facing Lhota are:
- Winning billions of dollars in capital funds to buy new subway cars, buses and rail coaches; to replace aging infrastructure, such as signals and track, and to rehab crumbling stations.
- Improving relations with the transit labor unions and negotiating a new three-year labor contract in early 2012.
- Keeping MTA promises to cut costs by half a billion dollars.
- Building on recent service improvements, including subway countdown clocks and faster Select Bus Service.
The riding public will also be looking to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership to :
- Put a stop to State raids on funding that are supposed to be dedicated to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
- Preserve existing tax support to the MTA, including the $1.3 billion that comes from the Payroll Mobility Tax.
Joe Lhota‘s nomination will be subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate.