Elliot Sander, executive director of the MTA until last month, got some choice real estate on the Op-Ed page of the NY Times yesterday to plead his case for a favorable legacy. Kudos to Sander for tossing around a Dylan reference on the page typically reserved for genocidal atrocities in Darfur and Maureen Dowd’s witty imaginings of conversations involving Dick Cheney.
“Bad Blood on the Tracks” suggests that the transit system is far superior to the graffiti-ravaged subways of a previous generation–and even to the system whose management he inherited a few years ago.
In March, on-time performance for the subway system’s seven numbered lines rose by 3 percent overall and by as much as 11 percent on some lines. These improvements came after each line was assigned a general manager responsible for improving service.
The M.T.A. has long been burdened by convoluted and overlapping operating charters, work rules and politically dictated mandates. But during my two years as chief executive we made significant progress in consolidating the back office functions of seven regional agencies — those in charge of trains and buses as well as bridges and tunnels. We arranged for the two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, to save money by jointly purchasing equipment and supplies. And we merged what had been three bus companies into one.
Sander says, with the backing of Albany, the MTA might actually accomplish many of the things it said it would accomplish the last few years.
With an adequate budget, the M.T.A. could not only maintain but also expand the transportation system. Rather than just finish projects under way — the first phase of the Second Avenue line, the extension of the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal and of the 7 train to Manhattan’s far West Side — we could extend the Second Avenue line into Brooklyn and the Bronx, have Metro-North service at Penn Station, modernize the subway signal system and provide high-speed buses to underserved city neighborhoods as well as Long Island and the Hudson Valley.