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Testimony to the MTA Board- Setting Priorities and Saying Thank You

By Lisa Daglian, PCAC Executive Director

July 27, 2022

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

This is an important meeting, with substantive issues that will affect riders for years to come. First, though, I want to recognize Bradley Brashears, PCAC’s Associate Director, who will be leaving us after nine years. Bradley was instrumental in developing Freedom Ticket, which is the basis of the successful Atlantic Ticket pilot program, and Freedom Ticket Phase 2, which we hope will become the next step in this critical fare discount – and equity – program. Bradley is also passionate about resilient and sustainable transit, and you’ll see more of his work before he leaves us to follow his dreams to California. Thank you, Bradley!

Thank you also to Sarah Meyer, for all you’ve done to put riders first and bring communications to the forefront of the MTA’s priorities.

For the rest of us, our clear priorities must be getting riders back on board and ensuring there is sufficient funding to keep our region’s transit system going strong. The fiscal cliff is steep and looming, and ink is dark red. It’s prudent to reduce debt and pay it off sooner. It’s also prudent to look at realistic operating efficiencies – but that doesn’t include scary code words that riders fear like “service adjustments” or actions like a “hiring freeze” that results in “we’re running as much service as we can with the crews we have available.” Riders may have gotten used to staying home and doing things online during the pandemic, but we’ve never gotten used to 15-minute platform waits during rush hour – nor should we. That’s not the way to get people back into the system.

There’s a new paradigm of the way people travel and there needs to be a new funding paradigm as well. The trinity of service cuts, fare hikes and layoffs as the only tools available to the MTA, just don’t cut it. Transit is an essential service and must be funded as such. We launched a successful campaign to get congestion pricing passed and we can do the same to see new, dedicated operating revenue become reality. We’re thrilled with the progress that’s being made on congestion pricing, and must be certain those funds remain dedicated to the critical capital program. Thank you.