Stand Clear: Opening the Doors on MTA’s 40th

The greatest democratic space in all of New York may be under our feet. This was the idea behind the speech delivered last Monday by Elliot G. Sander, executive director of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. “The terminals and stations of the MTA are…for people from all walks of life,” he explained to more than 900 people who came to hear the first ever State of the MTA Address at the Cooper Union’s Great Hall, organized to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the MTA and to project its future.

A rags-to-riches video set to disco music and compiled from 1970’s and 80’s footage of derailed trains, abandoned subway stations, and graffiti-covered signage showed just how far the MTA has come. It also served as a reminder that the MTA is not just for the five borough-based Metrocard holders, but for visitors from all over the world and the region. (To get a better sense of all that Metropolitan Transportation Authority encompasses, visit www.mtahq.org)

Sander pointed out that more than 14 million people use our public transportation every day, making the city one of the most energy efficient in all of America. If that doesn’t grab your attention then consider this: The U.S. spends less than 1% of its GDP on infrastructure while China spends 8%.

In discussing the recent $30 million investment in the system, Sanders pointed out that “improved customer service is about much more than one-way communication. It’s also about our commitment to ongoing dialogue with customers, stakeholders and the public at large.” Dialogue? He mentioned an MTA outreach program that includes rider report cards, public webinars, and public engagement workshops—all designed to give users a voice in the direction they would like to see their public transportation go.
For those wishing to flex the democratic muscle of (dis)satisfaction, you can visit www.mta.info and fill out your own rider report card.

For those who would rather just show support through consumption, you can visit the New York Transit Museum Store: www.transitmuseumstore.com

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