Jan. 30, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Assembly Member Aravella Simotas introduced legislation last Friday that would add borough representation to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) board.
The legislation comes after Council Member Costa Constantinides called for MTA board reforms that would give each Borough President the power to appoint a member to the board. The proposal is part of Constantinides’ running platform for Queens Borough President, however legislative action is needed to make the change.
The bill, also introduced by Sen. Andrew Gounardes of Brooklyn in the State Senate, would give Borough Presidents a voting appointee to the MTA board, adding five more seats.
The 16 MTA board members decide on MTA policy, the authority’s budget and fare increases.
Critics of the board say the current membership gives a larger share of votes to people who live outside New York City, while the vast majority of people who ride MTA buses and subways live within the five boroughs.
The board also doesn’t reflect each borough. The mayor gets to appoint just four members to the board and there is nothing that dictates where each comes from within the city.
Meanwhile, the state gets six appointees and Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau counties each get one appointee — all of whom have a full vote. The upstate counties of Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Orange split one combined vote.
“Borough representation on the MTA board gives riders a voice in the choices that affect them,” Assembly Member Simotas said in a statement. “Riders across the city need better transit. Each borough faces unique challenges and it’s time they all have a say in the MTA’s decisions.”