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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S. state of New York. Chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1965, the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (MCTA) was formed. In 1968 the MCTA changed its name to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)--yet it was known only as the "TA" or "Transit Authority" for most of the 1970's. The current chairman of the MTA is Peter S. Kalikow, appointed under the recommendation of Governor George Pataki.
For the developments in relation to the transit workers strike that halted all New York City Transit Authority operations in 2005, see the main article: 2005 New York City transit strike.
Responsibilities and service area
The MTA has the responsibility for developing and implementing a unified mass transportation policy for The City of New York and Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties, all of which together are the "Transportation District".
The MTA is the largest public transportation provider in the Western Hemisphere. Its agencies serve 14.6 million people spread over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km²) from New York City through southeastern New York State (including Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley, Eastern New Jersey, and Connecticut. MTA agencies now move nearly 2.4 billion rail and bus customers a year.
MTA carries out these planning and other responsibilities both directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates, and provides oversight to these subordinate agencies, known collectively as The Related Entities. The Related Entities represent a number of previously existing agencies which have come under the MTA umbrella. In turn, these previously existing agencies were (with the exception of the TBTA) successors to the property of private companies that provided substanially the same services.
Each of these Related Entities has a legal name and a popular name. The legal name is used for all legal dealings, such as contracts, and the popular names were assigned as part of an image campaign to identify the agencies more closely with the MTA in a shorthand fashion.
- The Long Island Rail Road Company (LIRR), MTA Long Island Rail Road
- Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company (MNCRC), MTA Metro-North Railroad
- Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), MTA Staten Island Railway
- Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority (MSBA), MTA Long Island Bus
- MTA Bus Company, MTA Bus
- Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), MTA Bridges and Tunnels
- New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), and its subsidiary, the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA), both assigned the popular name MTA New York City Transit.
The MTA is governed by a 17-member Board representing New York City and each of the counties in the Transportation District.
Members are nominated by the Governor, with four recommended by New York City’s mayor, and one each by the county executives of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. Each of these members has one vote.
The executives of the northern counties of Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam also nominate a member each, but these members cast one collective vote. The Board also has six rotating nonvoting seats held by representatives of organized labor and the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, which serves as a voice for users of MTA transit and commuter facilities.
All Board members are confirmed by the New York State Senate.
Corporate restructuring plans
On October 9, 2002 the MTA proposed a plan of corporate restructuring. Some aspects of this restructuring do not require legislative approval, but other aspects, especially involving the dissolution of constituent corporations and the formation of new ones, require approval of the New York State legislature. Legislation has been introduced since 2003 to effectuate that plan, but passage has not yet occurred nor is it certain at this time that it will be approved in the future.
The MTA would restructure its subsidiaries and affiliates as follows:
- MTA Rail Road would be a merger of MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA Metro-North Railroad.
- MTA Subways would be a merger of MTA New York City Transit's subways and MTA Staten Island Railway.
- MTA Bus Company (MTA Bus Company) was formed in January 2005 to take over private bus operations, as well as MTA New York City Transit's buses and MTA Long Island Bus.
- MTA Capital Construction Company (MTA Capital Construction) was formed in July 2003 to manage major capital projects.
- Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (MTA Bridges and Tunnels) will remain unchanged.
It is claimed that the merger of the various agencies would create efficiencies that would, in the case of the railroads, save approximately $30 million annually out of the MNRR and LIRR's combined $1.9 billion operating budgets [2004 actual, exclusive of depreciation], though the assumptions creating the savings were not detailed.
During 2003 the merger plan came under attack from various interests as details beyond the mergers were revealed. Expressions ranging from doubt to opposition were expressed by various labor organizations over the impact of the merger on union contracts, including opposition from Roger Toussaint, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents subway and bus workers. There are many unions at the two railroads, and similar jobs are often represented by different unions with different contracts at each.
Opposition also came from suburban groups who realized that the funding formula for subsidies paid from local and state sources, now set strictly by statute, would be dropped in favor of the MTA having broad power to distribute subsidies according to their own formulas. These groups fear that if all the monies were pooled into a single pot, that powerful New York City interests would be able to siphon money from the railroads to the city bus and subway systems.
The MTA was broadly criticized in the year following the proposal for not providing specific details of what the merged systems would look like, including in terms of operations, labor and finances. Tom Dunham, an aide to State Senator. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who sits on the MTA Capital Review Board. said: "The thing is we haven't heard anything from the MTA in almost a year [...] As far as we're concerned, the proposal is either dead or it's on its last vestiges of life support." Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign, a New York City-based transit advocacy group, said: ""The MTA bill calls for repealing all those [funding] formulas and giving sole power to divvy up the money to, you guessed it, the MTA. The bottom line for them is control over the dough."