Watchdog Testimony to MTA Board: A Good Week for MTA Transparency


Good Week for MTA Transparency With Gov. Hochul Signing the MTA Open Data Act and Real-Time Remote Comment Allowed at MTA Board Meetings

Good morning. I am Rachael Fauss, Senior Research Analyst for Reinvent Albany. We advocate for more transparent and accountable New York government, including for authorities like the MTA.

This is a good week for MTA transparency, with positive movement in two important areas. First, we thank Governor Hochul for signing the MTA Open Data Act, Senator Leroy Comrie and Assemblymember Bobby Carroll for their leadership as sponsors, and all the advocates for their support of the legislation.

Second, we thank the MTA for increasing accessibility of public comment at today’s Board meeting by allowing real-time, remote comments, as was requested by Reinvent Albany and others, including BCID and PCAC. We encourage the MTA to further expand accessibility at its committee meetings by also allowing remote, real-time public comments. Committee meetings are public meetings under Open Meetings Law, which requires a quorum when votes take place, and public comment is explicitly required under the Public Authorities Law. Therefore, there should be the same standard of accessibility at committee meetings and Board meetings.

On the MTA Open Data Act, we look forward to hearing more from the MTA about implementation, including most immediately the designation of a Data Coordinator to oversee compliance. Within 180 days, the MTA must create a catalogue of “public data” and a schedule for publishing this data over the next three years, which it must post on its website and provide to the Legislature.

We encourage the MTA to reach out to the many stakeholder groups who have an interest in MTA open data, including legislators, transit advocates, researchers, journalists, civic technologists, and others. The MTA has a wealth of public data that it can publish, and we understand that doing this right can take time. Given this, the MTA should speak with data users about prioritizing more immediate release of high-value data sets.

Thank you for your consideration.