Transportation wonks have a habit of talking about Jay Walder, the outgoing head of the M.T.A., in messianic terms, as though he were the only man capable of fixing the agency’s myriad problems—an aging system, run by intransigent unions, with almost no political support. While many of them have greeted his resignation with shock and concern, there is a growing sense that this could actually be the best thing to happen to the M.T.A. since Mr. Walder’s arrival two years ago.
“I guess I’m partly responsible for inflating the importance of Jay,” said Gene Russianoff, head of the Straphangers Campaign and dean of transit advocate.
Indeed, there have been others—Richard Ravitch, the team of Kiley-Gunn, even Mr. Walder’s predecessor, Lee Sander—who have done a lot to resurrect mass transit from the death throes of the 1970s. Mr. Walder, though, was different. He had moved from McKinsey to run London’s transit system, introducing successful innovations, including the vaunted oyster card, which speeds up bus and Tube boardings, as well as implementing that dread scourge, congestion pricing. He was supposed to bring the same innovation and ingenuity to New York.
“You have to hope it’s a wake-up call to the people in Albany,” blogger and M.T.A. kremlinologist Benjamin Kabak said. Read More