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From the Almost-Mayor: Put a SIer on the board!!!

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”STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Staten Island would have a permanent seat on the MTA Board, if proposed legislation is passed.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis announced at a press conference Thursday in Eltingville that she will propose legislation to give the New York City mayor a fifth appointment for each of the boroughs.

“We don’t have a voice,” Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn) said in front of the Eltingville Transit Center.

“This a community that has long been transportation starved, we always have to fight twice, if not three times as much to get half as much, and, certainly we deserve a representative on the MTA board.”

Staten Island lost its representative, Peter Ward, after a shakeup by Gov. Cuomo’s office announced at the end of March.

The change was part of Cuomo’s efforts to address the “diffused responsibility” of the board, according to a media release announcing the appointment of a new board chairman and four new board members.

Cuomo’s changes limit the terms of appointees to the terms of the administrations that appoint them, however Ward was appointed by Cuomo in 2016. A reason for Ward’s dismissal was not given.

Cuomo replaced Ward and another of his appointees with Haeda Mihaltses of Queens and Michael Lynton of Brooklyn. The other two appointments, Rhonda Herman of Westchester County and Kevin Law of Suffolk County, were made by their county executives.

“The MTA needs a board that will oversee and manage the transit system so it can best serve its riders, and this critical component of the MTA reform plan will ensure an unmatched level of accountability that New Yorkers deserve,” he said in a statement.

“I thank the outgoing members for their service and commitment to improving our state’s transit networks.”

In a letter sent April 17 to the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Malliotakis expressed her discontent with Staten Island no longer being represented on the board. 

De Blasio’s office did not return requests for comment about Malliotakis’ letter, or her proposal to give the mayor a fifth appointment.

A spokesman for Cuomo’s office neither addressed the assemblywoman’s letter nor her proposal, but pointed to the recent announcement that the effective residential toll rate for Staten Islanders crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge would remain at $5.50 after it was expected to rise to $5.90.

“We take the transportation needs of Staten Island seriously, which is why we recently announced the freezing of the resident toll on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge - a toll that has now been frozen for 5 years and keeps it the lowest of any major TBTA crossing,” he said in a statement.

As of Mar. 31, the cash toll for the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is $19, and the E-ZPass rate $12.24.

Staten Islanders with E-ZPass, who cross the bridge more than three times a month, the toll is $6.88. Fewer times, and the toll is $7.26. The Staten Island Resident Carpool rate is $3.40.

The $5.50 number comes from rebates.

A spokesman for the MTA said the agency has no say on who is appointed to the board, and pointed to the work the agency is doing to improve transit on Staten Island.

“The MTA is putting significant resources into improving transit on Staten Island, with a complete overhaul of its express bus network, comprehensive transportation studies on the North Shore and West Shore, the city’s first contactless payment system on buses, and the upcoming full-fleet replacement of SIR trains with the newest subway car being developed, the R211," he said in a statement.

Currently, the governor has six board appointees, the mayor has four, and the executives of Dutchess Nassau, Orange, Putnam. Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties each have one.

The appointees of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Rockland counties make up one vote on the board, all other appointees vote individually.

Each appointee needs to be confirmed by the state Senate, and only three of the four recent appointees have been approved, which Malliotakis said she plans to talk with her Senate colleagues about.

Only three of Mayor de Blasio’s four appointments are filled, and the Dutchess County appointment is vacant, according to the MTA website.

If Malliotakis’ legislation, which she said is being sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Lanza in the Senate, were to pass, it would mean Staten Island, a borough with an estimated population less than 500,000, would have the same guaranteed vote as Queens, which has an estimated population higher than 2 million.

“We are a county in this MTA service territory, just like every other county, in fact you have smaller counties that are represented, and so I think it’s very critical to point out that we deserve a voice like every other county,” Malliotakis said.

None of the counties represented on the MTA board with smaller populations than Staten Island have individual votes.

Staten Island attorney Allen Cappelli, who previously served in a position on the unsalaried board, said issues like increased transit needs on the North Shore following a recent rezoning approval for Bay Street make a Staten Islander’s presence necessary.

“I initially turned down the appointment to be on the board, because it was a crazy, all-encompassing assignment,” he said Thursday. “But then I was convinced by some that said ‘we need to have somebody on the inside.’””

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2 hours ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

Maybe each borough should have its own dedicated appointee to the board.

That’s how it should be - representation by stakeholders for each part of the service area, versus a board of cronies.

Pretty sure it’ll never happen despite that being how practically every other transit board that isn’t elected is made up.

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