MTA Head Has Misplaced Priorities

Micahel Dresser reports on a roundtable with Transit Administrator Ralign Wells. And if you think the head of the MTA has his priorities straight well…..not necessarily:

“I’m very frustrated that there’s a poor perception of transit,” said MTA
Administrator Ralign Wells. “What I’m trying to do is change the perception of

Well….people the public has a poor perception for a pretty good reason, and it says a lot that the priority for Wells is to improve the pereception of transit, not actually improve transit itself.

Some of the other things that Wells notes goes from basic common sense budgeting stuff to the more….well, shall we say off the wall concepts of what’s important.

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Every other major transit system in America has a SmartCard system. WMATA introduced theirs in 2004….however MTA’s is “still in development.”

A 30-percent farebox recovery rate for Wells is “decent.” Thiry-percent. We’ve talked about farebox recovery rates before, but what is even worse is what Wells delineates as the actual farebox recovery rates:

  • MTA Buses: 30 percent
  • Metro Subway: 28 percent
  • Light Rail: 18 percent
  • MARC: “Mid-30’s percent”

Those recovery rates are absolutely unacceptable.

Then we get to safety issues:

“But he said suburbanites who do use the system can attest that it is safe.

That might be news to more than a few people just with the number of horror stories that just I have discussed over the years (though it isn’t like the MTA got any help from Annapolis on this one). So the problem, Mr. Wells is not the pereception that the MTA system isn’t safe; it’s the fact that the MTA system in sections seems to not actually be safe.

But hey… uniforms for MTA operators will fix everything!

So how does Ralign Wells defer from his predecessor at MTA? Seemingly, he doesn’t. There seems to continue to be this culture within MTA that the status quo is fine, that the system is safe, that low farebox recovery rates are acceptable to taxpayers, and that the problem is with the perception of the public and not the reality of the situation.

I hope that we will get the opportunity to deal with this change in culture with the change in Administration in the Governor’s Mansion that will be coming this January…


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