No Easy Fix for the MTA

The Story

With the city’s transit system regularly experiencing slowdowns, delays, and cancellations, New Yorkers are trying to figure out who’s responsible. Mayor de Blasio blames Governor Cuomo, but Cuomo blames the MTA’s corporate structure, which ties his hands, he says. Both officials are correct: the MTA is constituted in a way that insulates its board from direct political pressure but also makes it hard for the authority to act independently.While truly reforming the MTA to make it more responsive remains technically impossible, at least for now, the appointment as MTA Chairman of Joseph Lhota—whose previous stewardship of the system was widely hailed as a success–is a step in the right direction.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Unaccountable: The MTA’s governing board is appointed by the governor but does not report to him. Read more.

  2. Dependent: The MTA cannot operate independently of political influence because it depends on the governor and state legislature to subsidize 42% of its operating budget. Read more.

  3. Debt: Absorbing the MTA as a state agency with direct gubernatorial control would require New York State to assume the agency’s $38 billion debt, which is 12 times larger than the state’s debt. Read more.

“There is a practical reason why the MTA’s board cannot be truly independent. The MTA depends on the state for money.”

Nicole Gelinas, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

The MTA and the MTA By Nicole Gelinas (July 2006)

“Does New York do better than Boston?”

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