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MTA Board Meeting Testimony-“Fund the MTA to Keep the Region Moving”

Good morning, I’m Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC). 

They say that money makes the world go around, but in our region, it’s transit around which our world revolves. What time we leave for work, school, appointments, dinner – pretty much anything – depends on how the trains and buses are running and what schedules look like. 

We’ve all heard, or lived through, horror stories of 17-minute waits for the F train, or an hour until the next scheduled departure, or a bus that takes forever to show up – but things are looking up. The MTA’s recent data shows near-all-time high OTP and a 14% improvement in customer satisfaction since Fall 2022, indicating significant progress from the darkest days of the pandemic. But that could all come crashing down if the MTA isn’t set on stable financial footing once and for all. Those horror stories will be de rigueur, and riders will abandon the system like it was the 70’s. We can’t afford that nightmare scenario. 

Reliable, recurring, and dedicated operating funding is critical to ensuring that we don’t see service cuts, exorbitant fare hikes or layoffs that lead to delays and decline. Now that we’re turning the corner, it’s important to keep all the positive trends and improvements heading in the right direction. Transit plays a key role in reducing congestion and air pollution, promoting economic growth, and providing access to opportunities. Transit is key to keeping our region moving – literally and economically – and it must be funded as the essential service it is. 

The proposals put forth by Governor Hochul show that she understands the importance of a healthy MTA to the region and riders who depend on it. They are a great starting point, and it’s encouraging that there is near universal agreement on the need to fund and support the MTA. We’re extremely hopeful that we’ll see a positive outcome come April 1st. 

We will continue to speak with our elected leaders about the importance of transit to riders – we’ll advocate, agitate, beg, plead, and urge everyone with a voice and a vote to do the right thing and fund the MTA now, and reliably and sustainably into the future. Our collective future depends on it.