Metro Riders Representation..

by Kat Massey

Recently, a Spectrum news report spotlighted a rally held on May 18, to encourage support of a State Assembly bill (A6168). Its intention is to have two voting members on the NFTA’s Board of Commissioners to represent Transit riders. A request for people to contact Assembly members and to ask for a favorable vote was made.

Spectrum stated the NFTA said there is currently one board representative for riders, but they wouldn’t provide further details. The news reporter emphasized the individual “cannot vote on the Board’s decisions.”

 The NFTA’s website had photos and biographies of their commissioners when I checked on May 18. Some of the dates for the positions showed several expired terms as of 2014. But, since the newest chairperson’s information showed 2016 as the starting time and not ending until 2021, the site seemed to contain the latest updating for public viewing.

In June 2013, Governor Cuomo appointed to the Board, as the riders’ representative, an unsighted (blind) woman.The term was to be until June 2017. Though having zero voting rights, she was a member of several committees — among them Surface Management and Audit & Governance. Hmm!

Not to be harsh, but due to the vision impairment, understandably, the scope of her Transit rides experience and advocacy could not encompass that of riders-at-large. A second representative should have been appointed to the Board, even in 2013, to insure the broadest range of Transit customers perspectives.

Nothing could be found to reveal the current riders’ representative’s name and background. Also, who are the replacements for the commissioners with expired terms??

Refocusing on the rally — State Senator Tim Kennedy and County Legislator April Baskin — were at the event as strong supporters of the bill.

Also, in the realm of public transportation advocacy, Assembly Speaker Crystal Peoples-Stokes has been a strong backer of the necessity for public transportation to be improved in compliance with riders needs. (Example: to get to job opportunities outside the City limits.)

 Infinite compliments to Senator Kennedy who recently became the SenateTransportation Chair. He secured $100 million ($20 million over 5 years) for Metro rail improvements.

Side Note: Hopefully, the windfall funds will influence the NFTA’S halt in pursuing the sale of naming rights for stations, which would allow them to bear companies names. As an example, the Bison’ s ballpark is now Sahlen Field. The income that would be received would be measly. In one case, about $100,000 divided by a number of years. The original rider-centric names (ex. University Station) should remain.