Metropolitan Transportation Authority
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) provides local and express bus, subway, and regional rail service in Greater New York, and operates multiple toll bridges and tunnels in New York City.
|Locale||New York City
Lower Hudson Valley
|Transit type||Commuter rail, local and express bus, subway, bus rapid transit|
|Number of lines||
8,658,764 (weekday; all modes)
|Chief executive||Veronique Hakim
(Interim Executive Director)
|Headquarters||2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004|
|Number of vehicles||2,352 commuter rail cars
6,407 subway cars
63 SIR cars
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S. state of New York, serving 12 counties in Downstate New York, along with two counties in southwestern Connecticut under contract to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, carrying over 11 million passengers on an average weekday systemwide, and over 800,000 vehicles on its seven toll bridges and two tunnels per weekday. MTA is the largest public transit authority in the United States.
Chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1965 as the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (MCTA), it was initially created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to purchase and operate the bankrupt Long Island Rail Road. The MCTA dropped the word "Commuter" from its name and became the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on March 1, 1968 when it took over operations of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) (now MTA New York City Transit (NYCT)) and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) (now MTA Bridges and Tunnels (B&T)). The construction of two bridges over the Long Island Sound was put under the jurisdiction of the MTA.
The agency also entered into a long-term lease of the Penn Central Transportation's Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven commuter rail lines, contracting their subsidized operation to Penn Central, until that company's operations were folded into Conrail in 1976. The MTA took over full operations in 1983, as the Metro-North Commuter Railroad. Governor Rockefeller appointed his top aide, Dr. William J. Ronan, as chairman and chief executive officer. Dr. Ronan served in this post until 1974.
Responsibilities and service area
The MTA has the responsibility for developing and implementing a unified mass transportation policy for the New York metropolitan area, including all five boroughs of New York City and the suburban counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester, all of which together are the "Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD)". Veronique Hakim is currently the interim executive director of the MTA.
The MTA's immediate past chairpersons were: William J. Ronan (1965–1974), David Yunich (1974–1975), Harold Fisher (1975–1979), Richard Ravitch (1979–1983), Robert Kiley (1983–1991), Peter Stangl (1991–1995), Virgil Conway (1995–2001), Peter S. Kalikow (2001–2007), H. Dale Hemmerdinger (2007–2009), Jay Walder (2009–2011), Joseph Lhota (2012), Thomas F. Prendergast (2013-2017), and Lhota (2017-present), who was re-appointed.
The MTA is the largest regional public transportation provider in the Western Hemisphere. Its agencies serve a region of approximately 14.6 million people spread over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2) in 12 counties in New York and two in Connecticut. MTA agencies now move more than 8.5 million customers per day. (translating to 2.6 billion rail and bus customers a year) and employ approximately 65,000 workers. The MTA's systems carry over 11 million passengers on an average weekday systemwide, and over 800,000 vehicles on its seven toll bridges and two tunnels per weekday.
Subsidiaries and affiliates
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 MTA Bridges and Tunnels and MTA Capital Construction) successors to the property of private companies that provided substantially the same services.
Each of these Related Entities has a popular name and in some cases, a former, legal name. The popular names were part of an overall corporate identification effort in 1994 to eliminate the confusion over the affiliations of the various "authorities" that were part of the MTA. Legal names have since only been used for legal documents, such as contracts, and have not been used publicly; however, since the mid-2000s, the popular name has also been used for legal documents related to contract procurements where the legal name was used heretofore. Both are listed below.
- MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
(legal name – no longer used publicly: The Long Island Rail Road Company)
- MTA Metro-North Railroad (MNR)
(legal name – no longer used publicly: Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company)
- MTA Staten Island Railway (SIR)
(legal name – no longer used publicly: Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority)
- MTA Bridges and Tunnels (MTA B&T)
(legal name – no longer used publicly: Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority)
- MTA Capital Construction (MTACC)
(legal name – not used publicly: MTA Capital Construction Company)
- MTA Regional Bus Operations (legal name – not publicly used; but rather trading as):
- MTA Bus
(legal name – sometimes used publicly: MTA Bus Company)
- MTA New York City Bus
- MTA Bus
- MTA Business Service Center
- MTA New York City Transit (NYCT)
(legal name – no longer publicly used: New York City Transit Authority and its subsidiary, the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA). NOTE: The Bus division is now managed under Regional Bus.)
The MTA is governed by a 17-member board representing the 5 boroughs of New York City and each of the counties in its New York State service area. The chairman position was split off of the existing CEO position in 2017.
Five members, in addition to the chairman and the CEO, are directly nominated by the Governor of New York, 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 county executives of Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam counties also nominate one member each, but these members cast one collective vote. The Board also has six rotating nonvoting seats held by representatives of MTA employee 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.
The budget deficit of the MTA is a growing crisis for the organization as well as New York City and State residents and legislature. The MTA held $31 billion in debt in 2010 and it also suffered from a $900 million gap in its operating budget for 2011. The capital budget, which covers repairs, technological upgrades, new trains, and expansions, is currently $15 billion short of what the MTA states it needs. If this is not funded, the MTA will fund the repairs with debt and raise fares to cover repayments.
The MTA has consistently run on a deficit, but increased spending in 2000–04 coupled with the economic downturn led to a severe increase in the financial burden that the MTA bore. The budget problems stem from multiple sources. The MTA cannot be supported solely by rider fares and road tolls. In the preliminary 2011 budget, MTA forecasted operating revenue totaled at $6.5 billion, amount to only 50% of the $13 billion operating expenses. Therefore, the MTA must rely on other sources of funding to remain operational. Revenue collected from real estate taxes for transportation purposes helped to contain the deficit. However, due to the weak economy and unstable real estate market, money from these taxes severely decreased; in 2010, tax revenue fell at least 20% short of the projected value. Beyond this, steadily reducing support from city and state governments led to borrowing money by issuing bonds, which contributed heavily to the debt.
This budget deficit has resulted in various problems, mainly concentrated in New York City. New York City Subway fares have been increased four times since 2008, with the most recent occurring March 22, 2015, raising single-ride fares from $2.50 to $2.75, express service from $6 to $6.50 and the monthly MetroCard fare from $112 to $116. Each fare raise was met with increasing resistance by MTA customers, and many are beginning to find the fare increases prohibitive. 2010 also saw heavy service cuts for many MTA subsidiaries. Fewer trains spaced farther between resulted in heavy overcrowding beyond normal rush hours, leading to frustration for many subway and bus riders. In 2013, the subway had the highest ridership since 1947. MTA employees also suffered due to the budget issues. By mid-July 2010, MTA layoffs had reached over 1,000, and many of those affected were low-level employees who made less than $55,000 annually.
As of 2015[update], the MTA was running a $15 billion deficit in its $32 billion 2015–2019 Capital Plan. Without extra funding, many necessary construction and renovation projects would not be performed. In October 2015, the MTA passed the $29 billion 2015–2019 Capital Plan, the largest capital plan in MTA's history; it will be funded by federal, state and city government as well as riders' fares and tolls. Three months later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast unveiled their plan to spend $26 billion to modernize the subway network, which includes adding Wi-Fi and cellphone services throughout all 278 underground stations by the end of 2016. Other plans call for making extensive renovations to 30 subway stations, allowing mobile ticketing by cellphone or bank cards, and adding security cameras on buses, charging stations for electronics, and more countdown clocks. Roughly $3 billion will be spent to improve bridges and tunnels.
The MTA refused to display an ad in the New York City Subway system in 2012, which read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." The authority's decision was overturned in July 2012 when Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the ad of the American Freedom Defense Initiative is protected speech under the First Amendment, and that the MTA's actions were unconstitutional. The judge held in a 35-page opinion that the rejected ad was "not only protected speech — it is core political speech ... [which as such] is afforded the highest level of protection under the First Amendment." The MTA had received $116.4 million in revenue in 2011 from advertising sold throughout its subway, commuter rail, and bus systems.
In April 2015, another ad became the subject of controversy when the MTA refused to display it, the refusal was again challenged in court, and the MTA again lost in court and was ordered by a federal judge to display the ad. The ad, paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, showed a man with a scarf covering his face, with the caption "Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah", which was attributed to "Hamas MTV," and then stated: "That's His Jihad. What's yours?" The ad included a disclaimer that the display of the ad did not reflect the opinion of the MTA. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan said the ad was protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and rejected the MTA's argument that the ad might endorse terrorism or violence. Pamela Geller, president of the group that sued the MTA in order to run the ads, lauded the decision, and a lawyer for the organization said the same decision had been made in Washington and Philadelphia.
A week afterward, the MTA's board in a 9–2 vote banned all political, religious, and opinion advertisements on subways and buses, limiting any ads to commercial ones. Specifically, it banned advertisements that "prominently or predominately advocate or express a political message" about "disputed economic, political, moral, religious or social issues," and any ad that "promotes or opposes" a political party, ballot referendum, and "the election of any candidate". The board estimated that the ads that the board was banning made up less than $1 million of the MTA's annual (as of 2014) $138 million advertising revenue. Nevertheless, lawyers for the American Freedom Defense Initiative called the MTA's action a "disingenuous attempt to circumvent" the judge's order.
The MTA collected $138 million from advertising on its trains and buses in 2014.
In 2002, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the MTA introduced the slogan "If you see something, say something." The campaign, which was based from a theme created by Korey Kay & Partners, consisted of public safety announcements, posted on advertisement boards in stations, subway, buses, and trains, urging people to report suspicious activity. Allen Kay, CEO of Korey Kay and Partners, stated in 2007 that the company had to do a lot of research to ensure that consumers understood the message correctly. Since 2002 the campaign has evolved from simple print ads to television spots, and reports of suspicious packages in the system rose over 40-fold, from 814 in 2002 to over 37,000 in 2003.
The MTA moved to trademark the slogan in 2005. The slogan was used by more than 30 other "transport and governmental" organizations by 2007. That year, the MTA spent $3 million to run 4,000 television ads and 84 newspaper ads in 11 total papers, over a span of more than four months. The idea gained traction, and in 2010, the domestic-security branch of the United States federal government, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), started its own "see something, say something" campaign. Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, described the slogan as having "engaged the public in serving as the eyes and ears of our system." Meanwhile, the DHS's campaign had attracted at least 215 partners in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors by 2014, which one writer called "a true smart practice." However, the MTA program has not been universally well-received; in 2012, a sociologist at New York University noted that the campaign had not netted any thwarted terrorist plots, and that the sheer volume of calls to the MTA hotline resulted in MTA workers possibly not being able to identify genuine threats.
In 2016, MTA updated the campaign, renaming it "New Yorkers Keep New York Safe." As before, the campaign features public service announcements in advertisement spaces. However, this new campaign now features the pictures, names, and quotes of New Yorkers who called to report suspicious people or things on the MTA's system. The rebooted campaign also shows 15- to 30-second videos of these New Yorkers who speak about their experiences. The two-year "New Yorkers Keep New York Safe" campaign received $2 million of funding from the DHS. The MTA still owns the trademark for "If you see something, say something."
In MTA buses, there are stickers plastered on the frontmost seats. The front seats are priority searing, and the stickers state "Won't you please give up your seat to the disabled or elderly" with the "o" in "Won't" replaced with a heart symbol. In 2009, it was codified into an enforceable policy that could be punished with a fine.
Since 2014, the MTA has had a "Courtesy Counts" campaign consisting of posters that show colored stick figures having either correct or incorrect etiquette. Green stick figures show what riders should do, such as taking off their backpacks, while red stick figures show what riders should not do, such as manspreading. All of the posters have the tagline “Courtesy Counts: Manners Make a Better Ride.” Starting in January 2015, these posters were installed in subway cars, with the posters coming to commuter rail and buses the following month.
In May 2017, the MTA started a three-month pilot program to encourage riders to give up their seats for the pregnant, disabled, or elderly. It created a website where pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly could request specialized buttons. There are two designs: a "Baby on Board" button for pregnant mothers and a more generic "Please offer me a seat" button. This idea stemmed from the "Baby on Board" buttons that were given out across the London Underground in 2013 after the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, wore such a button there.
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