As a native New Yorker, I know a little something about the critical role mass transit plays in daily life.
Growing up, the B42 bus and L train were critical lifelines for the people in my Brooklyn neighborhood – connecting us to all that the city had to offer. The transit system is just as important now as it was then, if not more so, as we look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public transportation will be the engine that powers our revival, and I’m honored to lead New York City Transit through this historic next chapter as Interim President. Taking on this role feels a bit like a homecoming: I started my career in Transit back in 1989 as an assistant engineer for the Department of Subways.
For three years, I worked in the roller bearing, pneumatic and wheel-and-axle shops before moving to a management training program in Buses, where I would spend the next 30 years working in every borough at all levels of operations — culminating in being named President of MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President for Buses at NYC Transit in 2019.
This experience allows me to see clearly not only the challenges in front of us, but how we can address them.
First and foremost, we know our customers want to feel safe and secure while using the subways and bus — safe from crime and safe from COVID-19. To provide that peace of mind, we will continue to build upon our collaboration with the NYPD and MTAPD. And, just as importantly, we will continue to install cameras in stations and on platforms. The robust disinfecting efforts riders have come to expect will also continue, as will initiatives to improve air filtration.
Cutting down commute times is another important priority as we look to win back customers. It’s my mission to make sure that Transit keeps up with the investments made via the Subway Action Plan and follows through on the lessons learned from the Speed Task Force.
And on buses, I’m eager to continue working with the NYC Department of Transportation and NYPD to provide more efficient and effective service by creating more well-enforced dedicated busways and bus lanes while reinstating our network redesign efforts and moving ahead on all door boarding and automated bus lane camera enforcement.
Building upon my previous work, I am committed to improving service for our Paratransit customers, including finding the right balance to incorporate the flexibility of on-demand services into our transportation offerings.
Finally, there’s our historic $51 billion Capital Plan. As we un-pause construction, we will work to make our system more accessible with dozens of ADA accessibility projects, more reliable via installation of new signals on six subway lines, and more environmentally friendly through our pursuit of a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.
I don’t mean to suggest that tackling these issues will be easy, but I have incredible confidence in our Transit team, the same team who proved each and every day to be the transit heroes moving heroes during the pandemic. Every member of our 50,000-strong workforce has an important part to play here as we move forward with the recovery, and I have no doubt they can deliver. I look forward to working closely with our labor partners as we lay the vision and blueprint for our system’s recovery and that of the regional economy.
We’ve already rolled up our sleeves to get to work. Now we also need you to do your part by coming back to the system. Because our hometown of New York City is dependent on a robust transit system to get moving again—and we are dependent on you.
I would be remiss if I didn’t end by saying, “Stay out of our Bus Lanes!”
Craig Cipriano is acting president of MTA New York City Transit.