Good day Senators Comrie and Kennedy and to your distinguished colleagues. My name is Lisa Daglian and I am the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC. Created by the State legislature in 1981, PCAC is the MTA’s in-house rider advocacy organization, representing riders on New York City’s subways and buses and the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.
Thank you for holding this hearing today. The issues you are examining – the finances and projections of the MTA in the aftermath of COVID-19 and receipt of federal aid; reviewing the implementation of the Transformation Plan; and seeking updates on major capital projects – are of significant importance to riders and to the MTA as it looks to the future.
Even as we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, with record post-pandemic ridership levels being recorded every day, our region and our transit system still face a long slog. The “hows” and “whens” of commuting are continuing to evolve as people and businesses figure out their next normal and as the Delta variant continues to remind us that the pandemic is not over.
How the new normal looks will have a direct effect on the future and fortunes of the MTA, which in turn will have a direct effect on riders. We’ve thankfully moved past the darkest fiscal days of the height of the pandemic, but they could certainly make a comeback and that’s something we should all be concerned about and do everything we can to stave off. Before federal intervention, which came about thanks to the dogged efforts of elected officials such as yourselves, MTA leadership, and advocates in this room and across the country, the agency was literally going broke helping move New York. Even at the height of the pandemic, it continued to operate to serve essential workers. Every dollar available was used to keep the agency afloat and service available for those who kept the rest of us safe, and we appreciate it. Money was permitted to move from capital to operating to keep the system going while construction projects were put on pause under an agreement that we hesitatingly supported. While that money has been returned, the lockbox funds from 2020 – nearly $500 million from internet sales and the mansion tax – are not being repaid as of now. If the lock is picked, the money must be returned, or no one will trust that the lock is sturdy enough to withstand tampering.
It is essential that riders get back onboard to support the future of the MTA so that the MTA can support the region’s economic recovery.
Read Full Testimony Here: 9.29.2021 PCAC Testimony to Joint Senate Committee on MTA Finances