New York City Mayor Adams has more to do besides appointing term-limited Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez to be the next NYC Department of Transportation commissioner. The mayor gets to appoint four of the 15-member MTA board. It makes sense to also appoint Rodriguez to be one of his four MTA board members. This would help foster better coordination, more cost-effective transportation and improved bus, subway, ferry and commuter rail services.
Any changes to the MTA’s $51 billion 2020-2024 Five Year Capital Plan have to be reviewed and approved by the state Capital Program Review Board. The MTA is counting on several billion dollars more out of the $1.2 Trillion Build Back America Infrastructure bill. These dollars and projects will have to be adopted and amended into the current MTA capital plan. This four member committee is composed of one representative appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority leader Stewart Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Adams. The mayor’s representative can only vote on NYC projects. The mayor has to insure the Big Apple is receiving its fair share. One way to develop a good working relationship with Hochul, Heastie and Cousins is to appoint Rodriguez to the MTA CPRB.
The federal planning process to access Federal Transit Administration funding is managed by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. NYCDOT Commissioner Rodriguez along with the next NYC Department of Planning director each have a vote along with representatives from the MTA, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Putnam County, Rockland County, Westchester County and the state Department of Transportation. NYMTC decides how almost $2 billion in FTA funding is distributed among the voting members.
Serving as NYC DOT commissioner along with being a voting member of both the MTA board, CPRB board and NYMTC would provide Rodriguez with the detailed knowledge and leverage necessary to help him deliver all the transportation improvement projects and programs promised by Mayor Adams on behalf of taxpayers and commuters. NYC Council Transportation Committee Chairwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers would also be a good choice by Mayor Adams to join Rodriguez in serving on the MTA Board.
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.