Episode 7 (Sarah Feinberg/MTA Board)


Back to another episode of the Second Avenue Sagas podcast I'm your host Benjamin k back and my guest today is Sarah Feinberg the former administrator of the federal route welcome outskirts of Charleston we actually lived outside of the city limits so so that was my first experience with transit and in Washington to when I got to Washington right after college was the first time I had ever written subway I visited New York like once with my mom when I was the biggest city so obviously there's no subway there there is a bus system I actually took the city bus for an increased urgency and investment station accessibility it's just another year for the MTA but it hasn't all been bad news though as Omni the governor and his way of inserting himself awkwardly into the MTA's affairs and there's an ongoing debate over the role of the board governing the MTA the board formation while the board recently approved a fifty one billion dollar capital plan the largest five year investment plan in the agency's history the MTA came under Eh Bloomberg and facebook she served as chief of staff at the US Department of Transportation for heading up the F. R. A. for the final two years of the Obama Administration Group in Charleston West Virginia which is actually usually the biggest biggest city in West Virginia except during WVU Football Games morgantown and You know the bus that I rode before it came up the hill to get me serviced even more rural part of of the school most days and when I wasn't playing sports took the city bus home and so I was bus rider from early on Thank you so somewhat rare among MTA board members these days is your background you grew up in West Virginia spent twenty years in DC with a stop in San Francisco before arriving fire from transit advocates who charged the governor with delaying the public release of the plan advocates for New Yorkers with disabilities have been flooding MTA board meetings for years urging is act as a buffer between the governor and the agency it's that role and her experiences at the federal level that Sarah and I are going to discuss today Sarah thank you for joining me not as long awaited Metro card killer debuted earlier this year and this month's launch of the Fourteenth Street bus way has been hailed citywide as a transit success story with the N. responsible MTA allow voice speaking up for some of the more powerless transit riders during MTA board meetings the first eight months of fiber time on the board would have been anything but quiet for the MTA the L. train work has loomed over the city while a fare hike went into effect in April meanwhile the governor has been pushing for MTA Trans on Tuesday so I've spent a lot of time living near a system that is clean and beautiful and accessible capital plan largely supporting Andy Byford fast forward initiatives and the launch of the bus way the MTA seems to be on a better path lately but I still hear lots of skepticism towards the how did the transit systems in the places that you've been to compare with New York's and what can you learn from these places great question yes a growing up in West Virginia work in so many people on the MTA board to seem to be New Yorkers for the duration of their lives or their adult lives their careers I think it's important to have a diverse array of voices on the Board Sara joined the MTA board in February after serving as a judge of the governor's genius challenge in twenty seventeen over the past eight months. She's been a vocal advocate for responsive city but people love it because they say it's cleaner and I guess getting to be more reliable than it used to be yeah I mean and look when I was a dot we were in the about like putting my card in and I would frequently take the train in the wrong direction and get off and turn around and come together way and and obviously got got used to it over title we didn't take the subway I don't know why and and I remember to this day I used to feel so grownup when I would ride the metro and I get nervous of of the rail system that way and then at the F. A. Obviously tons of of safety issues that we're working on work you have to shut down the system so those were not good times they are such a better place now than they were anyway already gotten distracted real lesson that you may WanNa talk about it at some point in in pushing a bureaucracy when I was chief of staff at dot and then F. R. E. Administrator we were in the middle of this debate about whether we needed to actually shut down for some amount of time because the system had not unlike New York had reached a maintenance level that where it had just fallen off a cliff and we were having we try to use the system and were frequently like waiting for ten or twelve fifteen minutes for train not at two o'clock in the morning three o'clock in the ears but but I am still frequently in DC because my family they're my partners families there's were there a lot and but in terms of safety lessons I mean it it it always has to be priority number one and then everything else can get done after that but if you're not able to keep people's thing smoke incidents fire incidents which were really really dangerous and you don't know how much you paid attention at the time but it we F- Attala the If the administrators willing to move safety deadline we will have much bigger problems and so and so the reason they moved it was because was because we refuse to move it it seems like a commuter system almost that is sort of masquerading subway stops are very far apart and don't go to a lot of areas there's not good inter connectivity across the safe then you can't do anything else so after your departure president trump named former railway executive to the IRA which sometimes people viewed as asking the read by rail issue which was the movement of volatile crude Oughta added the BOC into the to the coast and figuring out what we could do to improve the safety of I'm first priority because nothing else matters you can't get that right right so that was very much the the priority when I was chief of staff we spent a lot of time working on the and the congress eventually moved to the deadline because they because they failed to get me to move the deadline because the administrator said I will not move this deadline because from smoke inhalation and it was horrifying and so we were in the process of and obviously it's one thing to work in transportation at the federal level and then the system that Sir at a time when the Senate decided to push out PC compliance deadlines but it's still been a big focus of the administration and something that you are speaking out for you nation is willing to stop a project in its tracks for no good reason whatsoever that anyone can determine mta all that much look I mean secretary chows impact has been enormous even if you just look at gateway the fact that the admission reference the Senate pushing back that deadline first of all that's probably a whole other podcast we could do an it's an actually the P. T. C. debate is into guard the Fox to guard the Henhouse and Elaine Chao is hardly been a friend to urban transit agencies has the shift in federal policy harmed the MTA in meet a challenge that it does not think that can meet and then it's not particularly interested in meeting and that was really it was a huge piece of the two years that I was there on Capitol Hill working with polly Bergen others you know this is an unprecedented really abuse of what the we'll get back to the capital plan do you think it's safe to still assume a massive federal contribution to the MTA's long-term investments sell so my successor Ron Batori been particularly alarmed by any safety decisions he's made he's continued to prioritize PTC when the easiest thing in the world would have been for him to walk in and find ways to extend the administration should be doing of what any administration should be doing I mean the responsibility is to keep projects moving not to kill them in the cradle so that that that alone has been the federal government to actually think about having to shut that down because you have safety concerns we were going through the steps of trying to figure out how you get an entire federal workforce to work here's what are your experiences and perspectives from the FAA have you been able to bring to the MTA discussions and meetings and how does their safety records stack up well anytime you're at a department of Transportation Transit Agency any kind of deal like that at an airline the whatever safety is the top there's some talk about about funding but in my experience in history and long before I was in the Obama Administration I spent many years was a CEO at At conrail and and you know that the the sort of knee jerk reaction is that's the Fox guarding the Henhouse I have to say I have not the ball and and well-built but boy leaves a lot to be desired the services that's always that's always the the DC New York debate that we all get into the from the president he doesn't want to support a region that's not going to vote for him didn't vote for him doesn't particularly like him look I I mean I don't know if it's secretary chows that's quite all right so safety it's part of the conversation safety I feel like has been a theme for you over the last few years you know when you're you started at the CIA and I think at some point someone will probably do this that you know we just we probably need to do a quick and dirty study about what the economic impact will be if we lose that tunnel out money funding let's have a debate about how the you know what exactly is included in the project maybe we should include bridge maybe we shouldn't include four whatever none that line so I I actually feel like he's done a great job and I I don't think that his tenure Fra's necessarily impacted you a whole bunch to get that car started but at some point the car just didn't starting anymore and we're dangerously close to that in my mind it's similar to what you were saying about the metro then you have to figure out so because again and you know there's a people who are focused on gateway in more and more people are understand what we're talking about when we say lose a tunnel aw I don't often by the way there are a lot of places you can't get so great if you're going to dismiss greatest going to Capitol Hill great if you're going you know harder if it's the president's part but it's hard for me to understand or imagine someone who's been elected by the American people intentionally wrist fatalities just by the number of people on the road and if they don't drive it's going to be the greatest it's going to be the largest work at home experiment the New Jersey has ever seen and a couple of hours in the morning to spend time with my daughter and soon as we woke up I was excited it was my birthday was mostly excited about the best way so genevieve got up and had had her bottle and breakfast only been a couple of weeks yep changes changes the whole area changes Fourteenth Street do see this as a model for transit growth the MTA should be aggressively pursuing and it's not that all of a sudden some of the tunnels going to go floating down the river and we're GONNA have a we're going to have a massive incident what's going to happen has an engineer is going to walk through that tunnel one day is gonna say that's it like trying to start your thirty year old car in your driveway on a cold day at some point you can you can asking the economic impact that we could be flirting with in New York I mean the the governor and I've had multiple conversations about this and I I've suggested really get into how much that can harm the region you know even if trump loses next year and there's a new administration and they sort of ramp backup gateway funding still four years let's get a ton of attention but I actually am equally if not more focused on buses because I think it's the workhorse of the system and has not gotten sufficient focused getting all these people through the region to work up back and forth between DC in Boston right and if they drive you're going to have massive increase in incidents injuries gonNA meet terrible for the economy of New York it's going to be a a sandy it's yet have a massive impact and it's not just work it's entertainment it's people coming in about it I'm super excited about it it is a game changer for the neighborhood it feels better it sounds better life is easier it's just good and we're not getting back right the time has been lost and to be clear like this is nothing short of someone sitting on a piece of paper so that the project won't move forward this is not let's have a debate it's sort of the focus of of your effort here the last few months WanNa start with something good we were talking about this before we started recording the fourteen seems to be an unqualified success so far on about so I would love to see it I would love to see it expand and for us to do other busways I've said repeatedly that as Transit Chair I cross fourteenth I don't know you know on a weekday at least four times a day on a weekend it can be ten whatever I'm constant New York can overcome that look I think this is I mean it's super frustrating right you've got small groups of people who will it seems like it's much faster than building a subway you can sort of say totally calls first of all I live in that in the neighborhood I live to I live on twelfth and that is being debated this is an administration sitting on a piece of paper because they don't want to move for and it sounds sort of like a silly question but is this just personal petty revenge and look the city can we can move faster on to your point we can move a lot faster on this stuff than other projects it's interesting too I think watching this whole debate and out of the city for dinner it's this whole region sort of works together because people can get through that tunnel they're gonna like invest in robots is not expanded the ferry system problem that if people are going to be fighting against each of these new busways as aggressively as the folks living in the West village did it can slow down progress how do you feel urge particularly because it's an ongoing lawsuit and they don't want to insert themselves in ways that would cause problems in the court I know any by talked about this but there's this who will seemingly stop at nothing to stop progress right and you know they feel very strongly about the reasons that you know the reasons that they're fighting we're hearing was twelve thirteen fifteen sixteen seventeen it's gridlock people can't move ambulances can't get through it's dangerous we have a huge problem we again I live on twelfth and there's not there's not some huge backup of traffic on my street in fact I think that traffic is actually improved on twelfth because there are fewer cars it's frequently small groups of people who feel strongly for one reason or the other but look I mean the the process is what it is much credence to the complaints of people who don't understand the traffic modelling if they get out there and aggressively sort of saying this isn't going to happen this traffic apocalypse isn't going to on or whatever but I was like you know look at this genevieve like fewer cars now honking you now so it's an total delight and my family's excited worked up and even if you're polydor whoever you're the expert here the traffic engineer and you know the answer people still want to have the last several years and I would love to and Craig and I talk frequently about the need for additional busways the need for additional bus lanes and so I think it's a beautiful model you know tell us what they think the today let's execute before since this is still a pilot I'm slightly afraid we're GONNA end up re-litigating all of these issues again in eighteen months when up costing yourself time and you know generally I come down on the side of let's let people having opinion let's let people have a voice let's let people you think this has been a lesson in you know let's if we think that we have an idea that will move more people and make the city work better make the system ended up I think there's a whole bunch of ways we could have gotten here right so an effort to be as transparent as possible in to give everyone to my in laws who has a metric fly but other than that you know you're you could be in some it's very much into the DC metro don't work better let's do our best to execute on it as quickly as possible and if it's a disaster we can pull it back right if like we're in the midst of if all of a sudden all we have a system of busways and a few years I hope so and I will do everything I can to make that so but I would not underestimate there will be people who will undoubtedly go find data that supports their side of the argument and so this is probably GonNa go to court again at zoom so it's most likely the bus stops busways projects result you know when you try to be transparent and try to be open and listen to people you end public face the governor of course looms large over everything the MTA does and he's been exerting more and more control over the MTA sometimes well stating publicly that he doesn't necessarily have we got in the stroller and we visited the best way and and of course she was like what are we doing and we just go to the diamond can we go to the player go down that road so moving moving on let's talk a bit about the MTA out about it has and so the best way went into effect on my birthday that's a good birthday birthday present and because it was my birthday I stayed home for eroded ministration and a current Cuomo appointee to the MTA board. Sarah joined the White House following Obama's election in two thousand eight and after brief St Dot says this pilot's been a success we're GONNA keep it but I think at that point they'll be enough of a drumbeat of people saying this has been great let's definitely keep it and also let's expand it and I think that can happen because it hasn't happened everywhere else that had traffic and put on a bus way you're not gonNA convince everybody but I think it gives them more authority and allows them to sort of take shorts the ability of the interest of some folks to to find examples and everyone you know and on the board seven eight months now what are your views of the biggest challenges the MTA faces and what have you seen that works and what doesn't so look if and that continued we would be looking at it like we need to do something we need to address it but sometimes you gotta just move and execute and the power to do so and I think there's been some frustration from transit advocates but there's been a recognition that the governor is willing to step in and pushed for heart solutions you've been older not the not really a debate but the legal fight the MTA and dot sort of stepped back from being the public face of the fight and I think we're happy to have the advocates take charge in the end of the day hopefully you know the curve towards justice but that doesn't mean we're not gonNA continue to end up having to have this fight in court so let's talk a bit about Ta governments in the MTA board it can often be a bit of a thankless job working for the MTA or serving on its board these days the MTA is a constant public whipping post the board is the the project more and they seem a little hesitant to do that sometimes because I guess maybe they don't want to over promise and under deliver well look who knows how you had you ended up in the place where you at their opinion and voice their opinion right and so is that a good thing or bad thing well sometimes hold up projects but like is it appropriate to say we know better than you and we don't really helps her to change the public conversation because you'll see other neighborhoods saying wow I only fourteenth street at that let's put this in flushing but this on thirty Fourth Street and hopefully choice and let everyone express their opinion about the project bus way this that the bus stop the MO- more bus stops best whatever means you got a whole bunch of people such a detrimental and it's I think people struggle with this because there's a drumbeat saying gateway cost too much but there's also been no progress in three years now and it's hard to an and see what happens I mean it's sort of experimenting it's I mean you've got to just execute on the stuff in order to do with impact I sometimes wonder too if dot itself gives WanNa know your opinion probably sometimes right but I mean we get into the same debate when we are trying to speed up buses and move bus stops or take your have fewer and I don't dispute that but look at it happens the federal level all the time like the end the process I mean the the environmental process can kill a project I am convinced that we can get back to a place where this system is the shining star of the city the shining ooh I would say suits but I think it's been seven or eight months like you said I would say that I am As optimistic a union management relationships is the operating budget is broken the culture around the system is broken working better as a team all the time but when I say everything is broken the system is broken the the is contradictory. I understand what you're saying when you say it could be much better I mean I've seen the inner workings of the MTA for a long time and things have not been working particularly well a and and again we have a huge opportunity and I think that we can get to a place in two years where the system doesn't look anything like it did I blame the governor and then we'll move on until you the news of the day and look it's broken right so I get it others get it and by the way I'm not are getting better every day I absolutely think they are but the entire thing is broken and needs to be fixed and we can get where we're going we have I am also as convinced as ever that the entire things broken the entire thing top to bottom is broken doesn't mean we're not making improvements doesn't mean things the way people view the system is broken the the interactions the public have with the system is broken the press corps a lot of that at this point re-litigating the past I think he's shown a willingness to take chances and to push the MTA out of its comfort zone of late and maybe there are ways the covers the system is broken. I have I have had that hard conversation with I think every border the covers transit and no one likes to hear it so I think that things are getting better every day I think the subways are the subways are getting better the bus systems getting better people are focused on improving service we are here two years ago doesn't look anything like this system now five years from now we can be killing it running on all cylinders providing a service that New Yorkers they like they can't live without that they're happy with it is pleasant that executes well and it's music town work but I'm but I make my case to all of them because I feel like it's part of my job and I want to be honest with folks I mean lately the thing I can say is competent ever been that we can get time it's funny you say you know the Governor I feel looms large over this and I feel like I could do a whole series of podcasts about the governor's history with the MTA don't take for granted how helpful it is to have a smart aggressive governor on your side right massive opportunity right now right never let a crisis go to waste where we are in a crisis we are in a worse crisis two years ago we are still in a crisis but we can take advantage of that crisis and stupid enough to try to tell the press corps to cover what's news and how to write their stories but when I say the whole thing that's broken the whole thing is rockin they come from a state where the governor doesn't show up he's a Republican and he doesn't show up because he stays at his mansion in a different part of the state and he runs is he can do it that are a little more friendly with some of the folks who I feel should be getting more support but ultimately he's the one in charge he takes the blame he takes the Credit Jeff not just back where we used to be but with a system that is the off the world that'd be great and I think as much as that yeah I mean one of the things I found myself talking about a lot around the time of the L. Tunnel was remember the the number one rule of Fight Club don't talk about me talk back by the number one rule of the transit press corps is always playing the governor and the L. Train project in particular I think has been a good indication that if you push hard enough the MTA will actually respond and there are other ways to do it he may be so hands on bothers you he may be so aggressive that it offends you it may be you may feel like he came late to the table guess what you have no idea how good it is do you have a governor who agrees with you and you just sometimes don't like tactics so I'm from West Virginia when I was the administrator the P. T. C. deadline was looming and literally everyone within the organization the all the time but Omni's being headed by somebody who cares passionately about it L. Putra is doing a great job and you can see it in the measured rollout stuff right so you can have your you can have your complaints that you know it was it was too you know too late in the process or you know why didn't this get addressed you're someone who as someone who came from years of bureaucracy I totally see how that happened like it doesn't surprise me Elvia reliving an absolute nightmare and it turns out that that accident was completely peachy preventable it was crazy you strangle money out of the system or Republican wants to sit on a piece of paper's Gateway Project can't get time so you know and look the tunnels a good example really broken it's a very silent organization I think projects live and die based on the personality of the person in charge of them I go back to on the village right it wasn't like that at all it was like it was the it's what happens in bureaucracies when you put your head down and you're executing on some Asian say hold on earth sure are we sure should we think about this again because if you do that you're causing people enormous amount of work an enormous amount of de hang and you're trying to meet a series of deadlines and one decision leads to another decision leads to another decision and you never pick your head up and go back to like the first decision or fifty we should we go back to that initial decision to make sure it's the right thing I've heard lots of reasons as to why that's the case and I think that gets back to your point that there's something within the MTA that's funded needed to be reminded every single day that the law was the law and we we're going to enforce the law our job was not to be convinced by aw and by the way you know anything wrong like there's not some bad guy in the bowels of MTA who was like boy I can really hose those people in Williamsburg Coleman's and he doesn't choke to work and it's the subject of a lawsuit right now so I'll take a hands on governor that's on mighty any day over a Republican who wants to it is not specific to the MTA it it it's a big problem with MTA but it's not specific to the MTA so let's go back to PTC for a minute so early and it's going to be really expensive and we had the Amtrak derailment which was horrifying incident and many of his spent days in a railyard and a deadline. I finally put up a banner I went to make your own banner dot Com I put up a banner that said the deadline is December thirty and we've got to start functioning a real board right real boards should not stay above the fray Laker holier than thou stave of the synced to happen none of them didn't implement PCC and it's the same at the MTA they're all good people absolutely they're all good people and you get beaten the would would actually real board right so you you are and I'm not singling out I'm this Dorky to you and I are the Dorks that watch location of efforts and you don't WanNa do that you don't WanNa be that guy you don't WanNa be that person meeting right but it's also like there's something that's supposed to be nine at you saying are you appointed working supposed to exert oversight it's supposed to you know act as a you know overseer down by the institution you get beaten down by everyone on the outside telling you you're doing a terrible job get beaten down by all the people telling you whatever you're trying to do is going to be hard and impossible that was a thousand person bureaucracy the MTA is seventy four thousand person bureaucracy by the way none of the people are bad people none of them want every month but they're not like me watching these videos or the folks who go to the meetings every month how much time do board members spend digging into the inner workings of the agency I know some are more involved than others but do you feel the board should be above the fray or involved in the day-to-day going goings on within the MTA. Well I mean in a perfect world was that Amtrak was farther ahead than any railroad in the country actually implementing P. T. C. I get home from that accident and and the FAA's still like Oh yeah they're never going to be we're doing work it's supposed to be above everything so it can like keep a view on what's happening below and try to help the organization execute the timeline but I think if you don't have that kind of person leading everything you can end up getting stuck in a Rut of the organizational bureaucracies pressing down on everything the we are so I spend often twenty to twenty five hours a week doing MTA work unpaid competition it it it it does seem to be getting worse do you are there ways that you see that are getting worse that are alarming to you I think so I what am I supposed to be focused on what am I supposed to be doing so let's peel back the curtain a little bit a lot of New Yorkers I don't have a sense of how the MTA board works they know me so in a perfect world the board would be above the fray and would be would be functioning like a real board we're not in that perfect world we're nowhere close and so there are a bunch of board members who it was too hard or that it was too expensive or that it was impossible or be convinced by the Congress of other news things it was to enforce the law so so so you're not micromanaging not you don't appoint a board so that someone else can micromanage things in the middle of the agency right you hire board because it's supposed to does came to the conference room they would see the banner and be like okay she's not messing around that was part of it seventy five percents reason pedestrian rock was because my own bureaucracy and and management from the top all the way down to the bottom get super annoyed with this board which means we're doing right because every company gets annoyed I two thousand sixteen it's the law right and I hung it in the conference room and the reason I hung in the conference room everyone thought was because when freight any produced a report calling for some incremental reforms that could help improve oversight of the board including shifting their scope of review two major projects for the CEO exposed to create policy exposed to block and tackle to the extent that it can for folks and you get beaten down by the fact that you're meeting deadlines and you're trying to execute on projects and and at some point you have to pick your head up and say like well we what's my north star again like what am I like Oh yeah no one's going to meet that deadline just not going to happen and I would do would you talking about why the freight railroads always didn't like the deadline and they always thought it was like to your duty to serve public so I'm into it but there are many weeks spent fifteen twenty twenty five hours a week on this stuff I shouldn't be doing that right if the board were if every that sort of parallel to the governor and doesn't necessarily have the same level of do -ciary oversight that aboard would have at a Boeing recently reinvent you every company when they're in the middle of it and in the thick of it puts their back against their board and that means everybody's doing their job so in a similar vein then rather than all the smaller ones that show up handling policy discussions like fare hikes outside of the scope of major decision making and reforming the way in which appointments are made which would even give the board more power over management or ensure that the governor's the one directly appointing management do feel that these are suggestions the MTA should be looking thing we're functioning while I wouldn't be doing that but that's both my role as the transit committee chair and because I feel the need to dive into stuff to try and I'm not saying that happened the the the staff did but part of that twenty hours a week is getting on the phone saying what's the latest what's latest latest word after the oil spill now right so that's just it's part of being aboard and it's an served on Amtrak Board for for some amount of time and I think there's been increased attention on the structure of the board it's a little bit of a political issue because you have the governor who's in charge and you have a board talk to the vendor can we execute on this faster do you need more people I think that helps put people sort of out of their comfort zone talking about before right and that I thought some of it was useful I mean I think it's I mean I think frankly it is we should be so lucky to be having that debate right now like the board meeting and before it was on the board I was like watching the videos web stream so I'm right there with you and two you've heard my mantra that you also risk a bunch of people spending three months writing a piece of legislation that restructures aboard and good luck getting stuff done and frankly I think some of the some of the debate over who should appoint and how should happen it just feels like the to block and tackle for people to try to execute to try to keep people focused to say you know to to sort of beat a drum saying where are we on bus lines where are we on bus lanes where we invest lanes you probably heard anything on the cameras where are we on the cameras where we want to turn the cameras on I want to get bustling violations out there landscaping that we should do later you know so because the problem is when is that policymakers only have so much bandwidth I wish they had more but provides us with a massive opportunity massive opportunity we've been looking for and that we need to change everything so look the the report at one point calls for so it just feels like that's not what she spending time on right now so let's fix the place let's put the fire out three both the house and then you know like sure I I it's I think that a lot has been made of a blueprint I think it's a really helpful document I think it provides some guideposts knock guardrails but a guy posts I think that it blueprint but if we go over the next year from seventy four thousand employees to seventy one thousand people and then consolidate some stuff we will not have made it people on board who are appointed by column Special Interests or advocacy whatever you WANNA call them we've got people on the board who are aligned with the person who appointed them we've the organization do you feel that this transformation is part of the rebuilding of the roof that you were just talking about is this where the MTA is going to fix itself it's a blueprint right the report found some if it helpful I felt like a lot of it was too being dead horse but but yet I realized there are political decisions intimated Albany but would that help with the board would harm the board I mean I read the report this is like one hundred fifty yard like you know consolidate a couple things here a couple of things there you know somewhere between two and three thousand jobs the house is on fire and so we got to put the fire out and we got away put a new roof on and we got to like rebuild the house the agency while moving some power around centralizing management some folks have noted that looks like it's adding some more bureaucracy to the top of an early topic then let's do a lot of navel-gazing about who should be on board and what they should be doing it's certainly not a perfect setup we've got people on the board who don't vote we've got the other thing though there is will glaze over in asking you about the bus stop that was moved from one quarter to another which is all the time but if you are successful in that conversation different nope that's showing it's yeah and it's I mean and so I think it's a really helpful blueprint I think the brilliance of it was getting don't have much and so if you go to Albany new say I three priorities for the MTA this year and one is restructuring the board and governance and one is whatever and okay that's a fine blueprint if that's if we execute precisely at that massive failure like it's a it's a so this is I mean I think the segues nicely into the MTA transformation effort that's been ongoing the Alex Partner's report released over the summer seems to envision reshuffling the inner workings the on board who you know are appointed by someone and are probably aligned but are actually digging and doing a huge amount of work like is this the way I would build board no but like you know you you go fix the MTA board you have you don't wait till you have the perfect board and then you fix the MTA and execute on really massive change so looming over all of this too is the fifty one billion dollar capital plan which I think was a great board when the temperature is turned up right so you think you think Boeing likes their boy definitely not right do you think you know BP liked there rating budget because we've heard a lot of tension a ton of tension we've heard transit officials repeatedly over the past few months warn that there are potential service cuts need to understand that we need to reorganize the entire place I think it's really hard to tell us an organization to go reorganize yourself I think you need outside it's the road that's when like the real change happens right and that's when it's going to be really incumbent on the board and on the senior management people to come in with fresh eyes have experienced at other organizations to say think about this way think about it that way here's recommendations when the rubber way for the MTA to present what needs to do it was aggressive it shot for the moon it wasn't sort of just beating around the Bush laid out here's what we need to do to fix the great we can be great we can be big we're going to do big things are we struggling yes but we're going to get there and so against that but at the same time like of course we have to continue to do the day to day work of just running system that's losing money that it says worst struggling to execute on day to day life and maintenance and running this system but we know we can service around the margins to save a million dollars and investing billions into the system I mean I think it says the right I mean I think it's the right thing to the public this is Albany State legislators MTA management the public advocates all everybody has their Look there are all kinds of things you can you can find an operating budget that are problematic not lose sight of the fact that we have to address the day to day needs so like you know clan to have the best system in the country execute da over the next five years. I think there's this is what we can be there's a little bit of tension between now the capital plan and the star of the state the best transit agency in the entire country like the queen of the city. I'm absolutely convinced we can get there is coming up at some point before the end of the year with the budget sort of hanging in the balance what does this say to the public how do you sort of help reconcile the tensions between cutting the governor and on the mayor and the people who really matter here to to come up with insists and insist on is in a state of disrepair much better than it used to be a couple years ago but that is a constant source of of stress and struggle there is like look keeps coming up at board meetings and it should you've got to think big you've gotta shoot for the Stars but we've got we can a whole bunch of who we should wait until they figure out what the Billard should be restructured as and maybe we should just I don't know if we should procurement because who knows who's going to be here search for the joys of being ridiculed on twitter fan I do enjoy it and then I love public service and I feel like it's baby right that gets thrown into things like an operating budget we're running a shuttle service my favorite one is the shuttle service for running one hundred and eighty first street the reason we're running it to be clear is because there are a lot of folks who need us to take them up the hill okay so got it I Uh-huh if these plans are important forcing mechanisms they help you determine your priorities they act as a catalyst to get things moving but is my preference that Albany stays out of it sure because then it's one less one less entity in the mix right but they're not written in stone and they're always subject to change and you know again island on the side of transparency but anyone who argued gateway tunnel failure which means we have to pick up slack somewhere right so something will always happen and so the capital plan is these parents you fight was a little bit small to me because here's the reality which I the the reort plan is a blueprint to you know scroll back thirty minutes in our conversation generally you know I'm for people telling me what they think I frequently say at Transit Committee meetings the capital plan is a blueprint it's a plan plan beaten beats no plan Rutland always beats no plan plan also only lasts till the guy he ah a ten year budget that you see at the federal level does it mean that what we've said is going to happen year nine is going to happen but it's a it's a plan for how you get there and so estate is gearing up to hold some hearings on the capital plan next month is there concern that Albany is gonNA start putting its foot in the door here and try to change the plan fifty people telling you what they thought in New York whatever no-one calls me so so that's stunning to me but that's why I think the Tree uh-huh into a ways and means document the president's budget the President Obama's rhetoric president trump's budget

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