City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) has proposed mayoral control for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as well as a number of potentially popular — but costly — additions to rail, bus and ferry service in the city.
“If we want to remain the economic capital of the world and continue to rebuild our economy, if we want to keep New York as a place for middle class and working families — then we need to rebuild a transportation system that serves the needs of the 21st Century,” Quinn said in a statement issued by the Council press office.
Quinn laid out her proposal on April 11 at LaGuardia Community College.
giving the mayor a majority of the appointments to the MTA Boards and direct appointment of the president of its New York City Transit division, which operates subways and buses;
the creation of more bus routes, aimed at reducing commuting time and increasing job opportunities;
the construction of four MetroNorth stations with the aim of extending service to Penn Station; and,
expanding existing ferry service on the East River and seeking new landing sites.
Quinn said giving the city direct local control over its bus and subway systems would increase accountability and better serve the riding public. She said the majority of the funding for New York City Transit comes from the five boroughs in the form of tolls, fares and taxes.
“But New Yorkers have little say in how the system is run,” she said.
Quinn’s proposal did not explain how she would convince the state, which took over running the city transit system during the financial crisis of the 1970s, to cede control back to the city.
Nor did the speaker say how the city or an MTA under city control would pay for her plans with both entities facing deficits in coming years.
NYC Transit president tapped for MTA post
Thomas Prendergast, who has served as president of NYC Transit for more than three years, has been tapped by Gov. Cuomo to be the next chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Prendergast, a native of Chicago, began his career with the Chicago Transit Authority in 1975. He moved to the New York City Transit Authority in 1982 following a term with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
He worked in numerous management posts before serving as president of the Long Island Rail Road from 1994 to 2000.
He also ran the transit system in Vancouver, British Columbia, from 2008 to 2009.
“Tom Prendergast is a consummate public transit leader who is the ideal candidate to oversee the nation’s largest transportation system,” Cuomo said in a statement on April 12. “From track bed to budget to modernizing our system for the 21st century, I can’t imagine anyone having a better understanding of how the region’s vast system operates and the challenges that it faces.”
Prendergast said he was honored by the appointment.
“The MTA will improve the customer experience, operate more efficiently and build for the future,” he said, adding that the MTA will “aggressively build smarter and better” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Prendergast must be approved by a vote of the state Senate. He will replace former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, acting chairman since Joseph Lhota resigned in January to run for mayor.
Gene Russianoff, spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign, said in a statement that his group has found Prendergast to be accessible, knowledgeable, smart and fair.
“Tom Prendergast has the hands-on skill and long commitment to transit to make a great head of the MTA,” he said.