The departure of MTA chair Peter Kalikow got a mixed reaction from uber-advocate Gene Rusianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, who noted that Kalikow “wisely invested recent surpluses in worthwhile needs, including pension liabilities, more security, painting all 468 subway stations and a holiday fare bonus program”but also that he “fueled poor labor-management relations by refusing to sign the fair contract MTA staff had negotiated with Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union.”
From Russianoff’s goodbye statement:
On the the positive side he:
– won a new $21.3 billion five-year capital rebuilding program in 2005, financed in part by new taxes and fees and he called off service cuts and a fare hike proposed by staff for 2007;
– wisely invested recent surpluses in worthwhile needs, including pension liabilities, more security, painting all 468 subway stations and a holiday fare bonus program;
– ended up with an agreement on the MTA’s Far West Side rail yards that should provide substantial income over time for the cash-strapped agency;
– won $1 billion of federal 9/11 money to build new station complexes at South Ferry and Fulton Street;
– encouraged more open and transparent budget making in response to widespread criticism, including issuing a preliminary budget months in advance of final approval; and
– made fare discounts better and more progressive, including insurance for lost or stolen 30-day MetroCards and easier access for low-income New Yorkers to pay-per-ride MetroCard discounts, going from one-free ride for $15 to one free ride for $10.
On the negative side, he:
– was at the helm when the MTA was strongly criticized for its financial reporting in connection with the 2003 fare hike;
– fueled poor labor-management relations by refusing to sign the fair contract MTA staff had negotiated with Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union;
– pledged $400 million (which the agency doesn’t have) to help build a $6 billion-plus LIRR link between downtown Manhattan and Jamaica, Queens);
– initially agreed to sell its two most valuable parcels of land – the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and the far West Side in Manhattan – for far less than its own appraiser said they were worth; and
– signed an agreement with the City of New York to build a $2 billion extension to the 7 line with no written guarantee that the City pay for basic costs, such as for a station at 11th Avenue and 41st Street and some 120 subway needed subway cars – at a potential cost of $500 to $750 million.