M.T.A.’s Past Haunts a Panel on Its Future

On Wednesday evening, July 15, a day after David Paterson nominated former London transit chief Jay Walder to head the Metropolitan Transit Authority, a panel was convened at the Museum of the City of New York to discuss the future of the beleaguered agency. But much of the conversation, which was moderated by Henry Stern—a former councilman and parks commissioner who leads the museum’s Civic Talk series—centered on the past. For example: the lack of city tax revenues devoted to transit, how years of underfunding and subsequent borrowing put the M.T.A. tens of billions of dollars in debt, and—as the most vocal of the panelists put it—the failure of past leaders to “stand up” to the people who gave them their jobs.