The PCAC is the coordinating body and funding mechanism for the three riders councils created by the NYS Legislature in 1981: the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council (LIRRCC); the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC); and the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC). These councils were created to give users of the MTA services a say in the formulation and implementation of MTA policy and to hold the MTA board and management accountable to riders. In order to accomplish these ends, the PCAC and councils hold regular public meetings and forums, undertake frequent research projects, and maintain a support staff of transportation planning professionals.
The PCAC has held a non-voting seat on the MTA Board since 1995. Each council selects a representative to the MTA Board. These representatives sit on the relevant MTA agency operating committee at all times, and share the PCAC Board seat in turn. The 38 members of the PCAC are required to be regular users of the MTA system, and serve without pay. Members are appointed by the Governor’s office, upon the recommendation of county executives and, for New York City, the mayor, public advocate, and borough presidents. There are currently 12 seats on the LIRRCC, 11 seats on the MNRCC, and 15 seats on the NYCTRC.
The PCAC acts to:
- Provide a clearinghouse to exchange information on initiatives, problems, and solutions.
- Provide a forum to review MTA plans and policies, and as appropriate, to present riders’ positions to the MTA on system-wide issues.
- Evaluate, discuss, and take positions on proposed operating, budget, and capital program proposals and priorities, taking into account input from individual councils and the riders they represent.
- Evaluate major capital program elements and priorities.
- Sponsor and publicize at least one major research project annually.
- Pursue efforts to gain legislative support for a voting position on the MTA board.
- Present and review staff summaries of relevant MTA Committee and Board meetings and council meetings.
- Assign issues to appropriate standing committees for review and reporting to the PCAC.