Today's announcement by Governor Paterson that Jay Walder has been nominated the new Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is welcome news indeed. Jay Walder has had a distinguished career in the transportation world, both with the MTA in the 1980s and early '90s and then with Transport for London, where he was Chief Financial Officer.
During his stint at TfL, London began to rebuild its extensive Underground and bus systems and initiated its congestion pricing system. Walder has served most recently as a senior official with McKinsey, the management consultant firm, on transportation management and finance issues.
Walder has the experience and credibility that the MTA will require to survive these challenging fiscal times. He'll need all of his many skills to navigate the roiled political waters in Albany. Earlier this year, the legislature adopted $2 billion in new annual taxes, tolls and fees needed to meet the agency's operating budget needs for the coming two years. However, this process revealed deep skepticism in Albany, and among the public and some of the media, about the MTA's credibility.
Walder will be aided in his efforts to rebuild the MTA's image by a team of seasoned and highly regarded managers at the agency's operating divisions. Over the past few years they have improved service levels on the agency's subway, bus and commuter rail networks.
Later this month, the MTA will make public its long-term capital plan, which will provide the backdrop for a new 5-year capital plan, to be released this fall. The plan will underscore the need to secure at least $20 billion in new financing for the agency's capital needs for the 2011-2016 period, at a time when the state is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Jay Walder will be the point person in the efforts to secure these funds, but he'll need the united support of the region's civic, business and political leaders to achieve this goal.