2011 Transit Year In Review: MTA Chairman Resigns, Joseph Lhota Steps Up
MTA Chairman Jay Walder resigned this year, leaving a $10 billion budget deficit to Joseph Lhota, the new acting head, but the transit authority managed to launch a number of innovative new projects despite the shakeup. NY1’s Tina Redwine filed the following report.
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2011 hits the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with snow, wind and fury from the riding public as service is disrupted for days, and in one instance, passengers are trapped and stranded on an A train for seven hours.
But the MTA wins redemption in August when it closes the entire system in advance of Hurricane Irene. For the first time ever, service is completely shut down for a weekend. It’s running again by Monday morning's commute.
There’s a change of the guard at headquarters as MTA Chairman Jay Walder resigns and departs in October for a private sector job half way around the world.
Governor Andrew Cuomo nominates City Hall veteran Joseph Lhota, who is acting head until his Senate confirmation hearing in January.
Lhota inherits a budget $10 billion in the red. He’ll have to borrow $7 billion and persuade the union work force to offset any wage increase with work changes.
He promises no fare increase or service cuts in 2012, but that’s before the governor cuts the tax on payrolls that help fund the MTA.
Assaults on revenue are accompanied by a 20 percent increase in assaults against bus drivers, and subway riders face a spike of 16 percent in thefts along with another problem: rats. The MTA says weekend track closures for reconstruction have made it harder to pick up trash.
There are some bright moments for the historically beleaguered agency.
The MTA mega-construction group finally completes tunneling for the Second Avenue Subway.
And the MTA can toot its horn about better communication with riders. It has an updated website for service changes, and underground web access in several stations. Riders at 167 underground stations can check their trains’ arrival times on countdown clocks.
Above ground, it piloted real time arrival information for some bus riders in Brooklyn. Bus Time is scheduled to be available on all buses in little more than a year, and faster bus service is in the works on 34th Street.
Perhaps the biggest success of all for straphangers in 2011: a year without a fare increase.