Transit Advocates to Cuomo: Don’t Keep Us in the Dark

Only this man can prevent overpoliced transit. Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit
Only this man can prevent overpoliced transit. Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

Dear Governor, can you make sure you fix the MTA right?

That’s the message being sent by a coalition of transit advocacy groups in a letter today to Gov. Cuomo and Albany’s legislative leaders — all of whom are being urged to provide more transparency as a Cuomo-hired consultant searches for “waste, fraud, and abuse” as part of a report on restructuring the MTA.

“In order to succeed, the reorganization plan must be the result of a process that allows for constructive feedback and dialogue with the public,” said the letter, signed by leaders of such groups as TransitCenter, StreetsPAC, the Straphangers Campaign, Riders Alliance, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and others (full text below).

The letter goes beyond mere transparency, however. One of the biggest “asks” is for New York City Transit President Andy Byford to be allowed to continue overseeing his own “Fast Forward” plan for fixing the subway system, an issue raised by Reinvent Albany earlier this year.

“Construction is more efficient when capital work and service delivery are housed under a unified entity that can mediate disputes and ensure quick resolution,” the letter said. “At New York City Transit, the agency’s authority over service delivery puts it in the best position to coordinate its Fast Forward modernization plan, while also running a 24-hour transit network.”

Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter, said that consultant AlixPartners, whose initial report is due by June 30, is much more likely “to produce bad results” if its recommendations are produced behind closed doors.

“We don’t want to wake up on July 1 and discover that the MTA has been restructured without any public disclosure of what’s in the plan,” Fried said. “Even a good plan would be viewed cynically in that scenario. With an open process, the plan can be vetted and strengthened by transit experts, and people will have more confidence in the end product.”

Here’s the full text of the advocates’ letter:

MTA Reorganization Letter and Brief by Gersh Kuntzman on Scribd