Statement of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA
Before the MTA Board
September 28, 2011
I am William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. The PCAC was established by the State Legislature to serve as the coordinating organization for three riders councils created by the state in 1981.
As Jay Walder will be leaving the MTA before the October Board meeting, I wanted to take a moment to express our appreciation to him for moving this organization forward in some very important ways. To say that the last two years have been eventful would be an understatement, and you have faced the challenges that arose and kept the MTA system looking toward the future.
Although your time here will be short, we believe that you have made an enduring mark on the MTA in the integration of new technology into the operations of our buses, subways, and commuter trains. You have moved forward projects that had been languishing, such as bus locator and new fare payment systems and initiated others. Some of these initiatives are in pilot phase, but riders have seen what is possible and they look to the leadership that follows you to continue on the path you have established. We’ve also seen the great power unleashed by opening up information to the public. By moving from a closed structure requiring intricate license agreements for the use of the most basic information to an open structure that makes data readily available, the MTA has enabled developers to produce a wealth of applications to benefit the riders.
The times we live in have forced you to make many difficult decisions, and naturally we don’t agree with all of them. We remain opposed to service cuts and look for their restoration, we believe that a human presence in MTA facilities is vital and has been lessened through staffing reductions, and we remain wary of an increasing debt burden. There are other areas where we agree. Through your focus on efficiency and putting resources where they have the most value you have set the MTA on a path that is necessary for its future success, but that until now we were reluctant to travel. We thank you for what you have done for the MTA and those who depend upon it and wish you the best in your future endeavors.