New MTA chief starts work with plans for innovation
Give him 100 days, and the MTA’s new chief said he will start showing what he can do to shake up the world’s largest transit system.
“The system we have today is so much better than we what had just a little while ago. But we shouldn’t be satisfied with it,” said Walder, 50, while greeting No. 7 straphangers in Queens yesterday during his first day on the job.
A former executive for the London transit system, Walder returned to his New York roots for a six-year term as the agency’s new CEO and chairman. Walder previously worked as an MTA executive for 12 years. During that time, he was instrumental in introducing the unlimited MetroCard and securing funding for infrastructure improvements, transit advocates said.
Three months from now, Walder said he will have a plan to improve service for straphangers. His proposals will likely include:
— Replacing the MetroCard with a tap-and-go payment system that automatically deducts from a commuter’s bank account.
— Creating and enforcing dedicated bus lanes to speed up rides, rather than trying to resurrect congestion pricing.
— Making the MTA’s Web site more user friendly, and give developers more access to agency data to build mobile phone applications.
— Expanding the number of digital signs telling commuters when the next bus or train will arrive.
— Looking to speed up buses through a quicker payment method rather than free fares, which Bloomberg proposed for some crosstown buses.
Still jetlagged after arriving from London Sunday, Walder said he has not found a permanent home for his family, but intends to commute daily by public transit.
“I love New York. It’s my home city,” said Walder, a Jets fan and bagel devotee. “This is an absolutely tremendous system that’s bigger and bolder than anything else in the in the world in terms of transit.”