PCAC Research Reports
The PCAC and councils regularly undertake research studies and projects on issues of important to MTA commuters.
How the MTA can transition into the new normal: Getting Riders Back On-Board: While the MTA has taken numerous steps to address rider safety, and studies have shown that transit in and of itself does not cause the virus to spread, many riders still fear getting back on-board. A new white paper released by the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) includes recommended measures the MTA should take to increase rider confidence. Based on research into best practices currently being used in transit systems nationally and globally, the goal is to encourage riders to return to subways, buses, and commuter rail by making them feel safe and comfortable while riding. Doing so will maintain equitable public transit options and allow the MTA — and the economy — to rebound.
Read the full report here: Getting Riders Back On-Board
Keeping NY on Track (2015) PDF : A follow up to The Economic Benefit of the MTA Capital Program: A Call to Show the Full Impact, produced in 2012, Keeping NY on Track, is a study of the economic value of the MTA’s Capital Program. It aims to increase awareness of the importance of the Capital Program in maintaining the broad range of benefits that the MTA transit network brings to our region. However, new challenges, including climate change and shifting ridership patterns, expose our transit network and region to new risks. A renewed commitment from New York State leaders to craft a long-term MTA investment strategy is now more critical than ever.
The Road Back (2012) and Addendum (2014) PDF : The Road Back describes the difficult process of rebuilding the largest public transportation provider in the western hemisphere through the creation of a Capital Program. The review highlights the political, financial, and infrastructure challenges that have comprised the last thirty years’ struggle to resurrect the region’s most important transportation asset. Issues featured are the amount of funds that were needed; where the money went; how the funds were raised; and, most importantly, the benefits to the riders that resulted. Also discussed is the watchdog role that the PCAC has played throughout this period. The report concludes with cautionary remarks and recommendations as the MTA continues its efforts to restore and expand this vital system.
The purpose of the addendum is to update the facts and figures reported in the PCAC’s The Road Back: A Historic Review of the MTA Capital Program released in May 2012.
MTA in the Age of Big Data (2013) PDF : The PCAC examines the MTA’s current data issues by looking at the need for new technologies and the value new data visualization tools can bring to the MTA’s ability to better communicate its performance to stakeholders. The PCAC argues that by providing the right visual tools, the MTA can make its data more transparent and easier to understand.
The Economic Benefit of the MTA Capital Program: A Call to Show the Full Impact (2012) PDF : A white paper that highlights key studies that view the economic value of public transportation across many facets. It is also an appeal to the MTA to seek research partners who can provide the kind of analyses that better capture the true worth of this extraordinary system, thus adding further support for continued capital investment.
The Road Back (2012) PDF : This research report describes the difficult process of rebuilding the largest public transportation provider in the western hemisphere through the creation of a Capital Program. The review highlights the political, financial, and infrastructure challenges that have comprised the last thirty years’ struggle to resurrect the region’s most important transportation asset. Issues featured are the amount of funds that were needed; where the money went; how the funds were raised; and, most importantly, the benefits to the riders that resulted. Also discussed is the watchdog role that the PCAC has played throughout this period. The report concludes with cautionary remarks and recommendations as the MTA continues its efforts to restore and expand this vital system.
Minutes Matter (2011) PDF : This investigation looks into the performance metrics presented by the operating agencies and makes recommendations for improvement or adjustment with an eye to better capturing the impact on riders. From its research, the PCAC finds that the MTA and its Operating Agencies provide some of the most transparent and detailed operational metrics among U.S. transit agencies; however, a true passenger-based OTP is still missing.
Going the Distance (2009) PDF : A PCAC investigation stemming from a concern about the slow advancement of the MTA’s smart card initiative — Smartcard Demonstration Project Phase I — and the desire for a status report on fare integration and connecting transit service across the region.
Welcome Aboard (2008) PDF : This investigation looked at how each agency — Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and New York City Transit (NYCT) — handles ADA issues and the level of compliance achieved since the enactment of the 1990 legislation. It is clear from this study that the complex nature of these regulations, along with physical and financial constraints, has been a significant challenge to implementation. Most severely tested has been NYC Transit with its 100-year old subway system and its nearly 5,000 buses.
Long Day’s Journey into Work (2007) PDF : In this report, the PCAC examines four distinct geographic areas that are traditionally identified as having few convenient public transportation options. However, our research suggests that the perceived need for additional service is often more complex than it first appears and that coordination between various service providers, governmental entities, and stakeholders is crucial. The disconnect between physical distance and travel time is in part due to the existing transportation infrastructure not being used as efficiently as it could be. This shortfall in public transportation service must be addressed if the New York region is to maintain an effective overall transportation system.
Where is the MTA on TOD? (2006) PDF : The PCAC examined New York State, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s (NYMTC), and MTA policies and actions related to Transit Oriented Development. We found a number of promising initial steps moving toward TOD and several successful initiatives, but also a need to focus and coordinate efforts to link land use patterns and transportation. Based on our examination of conditions within the MTA service area and TOD in areas throughout the United States, the PCAC developed general recommendations for actions to be undertaken by the State of New York, NYMTC, and the MTA and its operating agencies.
Ladies and Gentlemen: This Is Not a Drill….(2005) PDF : A Study of Internal and External Emergency Communication Policies at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and New York City Transit. This report discusses provisions for emergency communication within the MTA and the
Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and the NYC Transit Subways and presents conclusions about each agency’s preparation for internal and external communication before, during, and after an emergency.
In Your Pocket: Using Smart Cards for Seamless Travel (2004) PDF : Smart cards can streamline fare payment, reduce customer service, administrative and maintenance costs, increase throughput, and decrease bus dwell times for transit operators. Non-transit applications of smart cards may also generate income for transit operators.
Best Foot Forward (2003) PDF : Training Front Line Personnel to Provide Quality Customer Service. Effective communication and excellent customer service are paramount to running a successful transportation system. In fact, a recent report by the Public Agenda found that forty-six percent of people interviewed had walked out of a business in the past year due to bad customer service. Bad customer service results in lost business. This can translate into lost ridership in the transportation industry.
You’ve Got Connections! (2002) PDF : Increasing Shuttle Bus Services to the MTA Railroads. Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders have difficulty finding parking at many stations. Commuters typically arrive earlier and walk farther to find a parking space, while discretionary riders are left with few spaces remaining after the daily commuter rush. The lack of available parking is one of the greatest constraints to increasing ridership on the railroads, yet building more parking spaces is not a priority for communities for many reasons.
Right of Passage (2001) PDF : Reducing Barriers to the Use of Public Transportation in the MTA Region. The PCAC examined potential ways to reduce barriers to public transportation usage in the New York region. We looked to provide the MTA with recommendations for attracting even more passengers, without major capital expenditure. Such an approach will help to improve regional mobility and livability, enhance our city’s core, and reduce our dependence on the private automobile.
Mixed Signals (2000) PDF : To assess the MTA’s overall provision of customer information in today’s climate of burgeoning ridership, the PCAC undertook a study of the communications departments at each agency. In particular, comprehensive information was gathered on MTA agency telephone and correspondence units and on the provision of information over the Internet via the MTA website. For purposes of comparison, supplementary information was also collected from other transit providers including New Jersey Transit and London Transport.
Privatizing MTA Services: Cost Savings or Buzzword? (1999) PDF : This paper explores three types of privatization for public transportation agencies.
A Comparative Study of Financing for the MTA (1997) PDF : Increasing operating and capital subsidies is critical if the MTA is to be able to continue to provide the level of service appropriate in downstate New York. The New York metropolitan area is the core of the state’s economy and a world-class region. In 1994, New York City generated more than forty percent of the personal income in the state and produced nearly a third of the retail sales in the state.
PCAC Annual Reports
You can read about the activities of the PCAC and rider Councils in PCAC’s annual reports. The annual reports highlight the year’s priority issues in our mission to represent and support the riders of the MTA
PCAC 2019 Annual Report: In 2019, as the MTA embarked on several exciting and transformative initiatives, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) and Councils continued advocating for riders by advising the MTA, fulfilling our legislative mandate which began over forty years ago.
The PCAC Annual Report details our 2019 actions as the MTA’s official rider representatives. You can count on the PCAC and Councils to be your voice as 2020 unfolds, with all its challenges.
2018 Annual Report PDF : In 2018, the PCAC and its three councils celebrated the implementation of Freedom Ticket phase 1: Atlantic Ticket; penned an op-ed on LIRR parking issues; and served on the MTA Sustainability Advisory Working Group.
2017 Annual Report PDF : For over 40 years PCAC has represented MTA riders. Since being established by the State Legislature in 1981 it served as the umbrella organization of the three MTA Rider Councils. The PCAC advises the MTA on behalf of the riders in the formulation and implementation of MTA policy and works to hold the MTA accountable to the riders. In 2017, the PCAC and its three councils advised the MTA on the Subway Action Plan, the MTA’s rising debt level, the Subway Performance Dashboard, LIRR’s Main Line Third Track project, and MNR’s communication during storms.
Forty Years of Advocacy PDF : Over the last forty years the PCAC and Councils have worked with the MTA and its operating agencies to improve conditions for all riders. While the MTA has come a long
way from the decay of the 1970s and 80s, recent events such as track fires, derailments,
failing car equipment, overcrowding, signal failures, and drastically decreasing
system reliability have made the role of the PCAC and its Councils even more crucial
in representing riders.
2016 Annual Report PDF : The PCAC and its three Councils were established in 1981 to give voice to MTA riders in the formulation and implementation of MTA policy, and to hold the MTA Board and MTA management accountable to riders. In 2016, the PCAC and its three councils advised the MTA on the upcoming 2017 fare hikes, the need for LIRR’s Main Line Third Track Project, cross-honoring tickets during service-disruptions in the MNR service area, and to implement the Freedom Ticket Pilot Program by 2017. The councils also addressed various issues effecting MTA riders.
2015 Annual Report PDF : The PCAC and its three Councils were established in 1981 to give voice to MTA riders in the formulation and implementation of MTA policy, and to hold the MTA Board and MTA management accountable to riders. In 2015, the PCAC and its three councils advised the MTA regarding the approval of the 2015-2019 Capital Program, commuter rail grade crossing safety, and implementation of lower railroad fares within the City. The councils also addressed various issues effecting MTA riders.
2014 Annual Report PDF : The PCAC and its three Councils were established in 1981 to give voice to MTA riders in the formulation and implementation of MTA policy, and to hold the MTA Board and MTA management accountable to riders. In 2014, the PCAC along with the three councils testified at the MTA Fare hearings and the MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission. The councils also addressed various issues effecting MTA riders.
2011 Annual Report PDF : The PCAC and its three rider Councils address a variety of issues that impact the daily commuter, at both local and broad policy levels…
2010 Annual Report PDF : The PCAC staff and rider Councils had their hands full in 2010 fighting service cuts and fare increases, a result of Albany’s withdrawal of funding.
2009 Annual Report PDF : Financial turmoil and uncertainty at the MTA marked 2009. The PCAC and its Councils spent the spring battling the MTA’s proposed “doomsday” budget. This effort included testimony delivered at hearings and Board meetings and discussions with State elected officials, both locally and in Albany.
2008 Annual Report PDF : Throughout 2008, the PCAC and rider Councils, LIRRCC, MNRCC and NYCTRC, found themselves addressing a myriad of issues related to the financial health and well-being of the MTA and its operating agencies.
2007 Annual Report PDF : In October, the PCAC released its annual research report, A Long Day’s Journey into Work, which describes transportation choices to Manhattan from Southeast Queens, Co-Op City in the Bronx, Southwest Staten Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn. In April 2007, Dr. Jan S. Wells joined PCAC as Associate Director.
2006 Annual Report PDF : In October, the PCAC released its research report on the potential for Transit Oriented Development in the MTA system, Where is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Transit Oriented Development? In the report the PCAC calls for a partnership among the MTA, its operating agencies, State and local governments, community organizations, and private developers to encourage Transit Oriented Development on appropriate sites.After a distinguished career, Beverly Dolinsky retired as Executive Director on December 22, 2006.
2005 Annual Report PDF : In August, the PCAC released its research report on emergency communication at the MTA operating agencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: This Is Not a Drill. . . . A Study of Internal and External Communication Policies. The report concluded that while the agencies have successfully responded to emergencies in operational terms, there exist major flaws in their internal and external communication practices.
2004 Annual Report PDF : In June 2004, Associate Director Katherine Brower left the PCAC to pursue a graduate degree in landscape architecture and William Henderson joined the staff as Associate Director. In October 2004, the PCAC released its research report, In Your Pocket: Using Smart Cards for Seamless Travel. The report reviewed smart card technology, examined the experience of transit agencies in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. with smart card fare collection systems, and recommended an implementation path for the MTA.
2003 Annual Report PDF : In November the PCAC released Best Foot Forward: Training Front Line Personnel to Provide Quality Customer Service. This report urges the MTA and its operating agencies to share best customer service practices and institute measures to ensure greater consistency in front line personnel hiring, training, evaluation, and retraining practices. The report recommended that the MTA make it a priority to improve communications technology for front line agency employees and customers.
2002 Annual Report PDF : In May, the PCAC urged MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow to create a LIRR and MNR “City Ticket” to reduce the price of weekday off peak and reverse commute trips within NYC. The PCAC urged the MTA to give higher priority to the use of shuttle bus services to reduce parking demand at the MTA railroads in a December report, You’ve Got Connections! Increasing Shuttle Bus Services to the MTA Railroads.
2001 Annual Report PDF : PCAC demonstrated its continued commitment to improving regional public transportation in 2001. In April, PCAC released a major research report, Right of Passage: Reducing Barriers to the Use of Public Transportation in the MTA Region. The report makes recommendations for improved signage at intermodal transfers and implementation of “kiss-and-ride” passenger drop-off locations at commuter rail stations.
2000 Annual Report PDF : PCAC demonstrated its continued commitment to improving regional public transportation in 2001. In April, PCAC released a major research report, Right of Passage: Reducing Barriers to the Use of Public Transportation in the MTA Region. The report makes recommendations for improved signage at intermodal transfers and implementation of “kiss-and-ride” passenger drop-off locations at commuter rail stations.
1999 Annual Report PDF : In March, the PCAC released a major research report, Privatizing MTA Services, Cost Savings or Political Buzzword?. The study examined options for the MTA to partner with the private sector to expand capital and operating funding in an era of constrained resources. Although the report found little benefit in contracting out services, it did find dividends in using private or joint-development money for capital activities, including station rehabilitation work.
MTA Annual Assessments
2010 MTA Annual Performance Review PDF : The 2010 Annual Performance Review marks the fourth report by PCAC which evaluates the yearly initiatives and accomplishments of the MTA and its operating agencies.
2009 MTA Annual Performance Review PDF : This report addresses a number of broad themes such as leadership, transparency, organizational structure, service performance, communication, and accessibility.
2008 MTA Annual Performance Review PDF : Despite many achievements, PCAC feels that there are still critical issues that have not yet been adequately addressed by the MTA leadership. There has also not been the level of interaction with advocacy groups anticipated when Mr. Sander first took his position.
2007 MTA Annual Performance Review PDF : The MTA has made strides in promoting a more open MTA organization. Steps taken this year to improve access to the MTA include an increased number of public hearings, better public hearing venues, improved presentations, an interactive “Fare Forum” public workshop, and a first “Webinar” focusing on the fare increase.