Opinion from NYS Committee on Open Government Says MTA’s Traffic Board Must Follow Open Meetings Law


NYS Open Government Ombudsman Rules MTA Traffic Mobility Review Board Must Follow Open Meetings Law

Groups Say Traffic Board Must Be Appointed ASAP Since Congestion Pricing Begins in Less Than a Year — January 2021

Congestion pricing must succeed in New York City. It is essential to the future of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and is a hugely important public policy supported by leading environmental, transit, transportation, planning and fiscal watchdog and advocacy groups.

The clock is ticking, with congestion pricing slated to be underway by January 2021. According to state law, fundamental questions like who pays and how much they pay in congestion fees will be answered by a Traffic Mobility Review Board (TMRB) in recommendations made to the MTA Board after November 15, 2020. This six person panel will make recommendations about congestion fees and exemptions – key to millions of people who visit or live in the congestion zone, south of 60th Street in Manhattan, as well as millions of transit riders.

According to an advisory opinion issued by the NYS Committee on Open Government, the Traffic Mobility Review Board is subject to the state’s Open Meetings Law. OML requires public bodies to hold open meetings, while allowing non-public executive sessions only for narrow issues involving personal privacy or contract negotiations.

The Committee on Open Government’s advisory decision was issued in response to a request from watchdog groups. Many of these groups also sent a letter to the MTA Board in November 2019 urging MTA to promptly appoint the TMRB and ensure it follow the Open Meetings Law. (Signers included Reinvent Albany, Regional Plan Association, Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC), Citizens Budget Commission, TransitCenter, and others.)

Congestion pricing must yield $15B after bonding for critical subway, bus and commuter rail fixes to support the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan. Those funds, will be split 80 percent to NYCT, and 10 percent each to MNR and LIRR, and will be placed in a “lockbox” for 2020-2024 capital projects only.

The letter is available here, as well as the advisory opinion from the Committee on Open Government.