In order to support better representation for transit dependent people at the MTA, we ask that you sign this petition urging the Honorable Mayor of NYC, Bill De Blasio, to recommend two "rider-representatives" for appointment as voting members of the MTA Board of Directors. Once made, these recommendations must be confirmed by the Governor and Senate, but simply putting their names forward is a significant step in achieving transit justice.
Millions of New Yorkers are dependent on the MTA for their daily transportation needs, and yet these transit dependent people have very little influence on how the MTA is governed. The Rider Representation Campaign, led by the New York State Transportation Equity Alliance and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, seeks to have two "rider-representatives", with voting power, appointed to the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as a means of addressing this inequity.
The current process for appointing members to the Board of Directors of the MTA, and all other transit governing boards in NY State, involves recommendations from local officials, with confirmation by the Governor and Senate. Furthermore, the Governor has the ability to appoint Board members independent of local recommendations. The MTA Board of Directors make wide-ranging decisions on capital investments, the cost of transit fares, service cuts/additions, and public engagement, among other things. Unfortunately, the appointment process in place has created a transit system that is too often detached from the needs of low-income NYers, and others who lack political influence.
A rider-rep, with voting power, would work to ensure that NYC's transit dependent community, including children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and low-income riders, have their interests heard at the highest levels of transit leadership. This would be a significant step in promoting equitable funding for transit improvements and planning, and greater transparency and participation for transit-dependent people.
The current appointment process has led to the disproportionate appointment of people for their business and management acumen, rather than their experience as users of public transportation. Or as one recent article said: “There are way too many people working on transit who don’t actually ride transit ... if you’re going to be making decisions about transit, you really need to know what it’s actually like. Not what it’s like in theory, but what it’s actually like.” While the MTA does have a seat for a “regular mass transit user,” that seat has no voting power, and arguably represents riders in name only. Furthermore, when riders try to influence how transit governance through limited public comment periods, their grievances fall on deaf ears, demonstrating that riders do not have a meaningful voice in the decision-making of our transit systems. It is profoundly troubling that the decision-making bodies of these authorities do not include the voices of their constituents that are most in need. A rider’s perspective, grounded in the daily use and dependence on the reliable functioning of public transit for their livelihoods, must be included in the decision-making body of those systems – with voting power to enact change. The path to justice starts by having a seat at the table.
In September of 2014, the Rider Rep campaign submitted a letter to Mayor De Blasio with support from over 30 organizations, 30 City Council Members, and 700 signatures collected by our organizers on NYC trains and buses. You can see a copy of the letter below to see what groups and local officials have endorsed this campaign. Adding your signature here will only add strength and a sense of urgency to this campaign.
For more information about how the executive leadership of transit agencies are appointed, please review the fact-sheets below. You can view the PDF versions here.