Watchdog Testimony to Port Authority About Public Comment Process and LGA Transit Access


Testimony to Board of Port Authority of NY and NJ
November 16, 2021

Re: Port Authority Should Allow Hybrid, Real-Time Public Comment, and LGA AirTrain Should be a Fully Joint Project between Port Authority and MTA

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 and Port Authority. I am pre-recording comments on November 16th for the Port Authority’s Board of Directors Meeting for the meeting on November 18, 2021.

First, we ask the Port Authority to improve its public comment process by following the best practice of the public providing real-time comment both in-person and remotely for your Board meetings. This “hybrid” approach is currently being used by the MTA for its Board meetings, and is working well for the public, and being managed effectively by MTA staff.

The Port Authority’s process of making the public record their comments and email a video file to the Port Authority 2 days in advance of Port Authority meetings is an unnecessary barrier for the public, and also means that the comment is not timely – and a lot can happen in two days. Additionally, the Port Authority does not publish written comments received from the public on its website, for those who do not opt to share video.

Second, we would like to bring to your attention a letter sent by Reinvent Albany and other civic and transit groups to Governor Hochul asking that the LaGuardia transit access initiative be a fully joint project between the Port Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Any solution that will “thoroughly examine alternative mass transit solutions” as envisioned by Governor Hochul is inevitably going to involve MTA bus and/or subway services. An airport access project that builds on existing transit networks is most likely to increase mobility across the city and region, attract more airport employees and passengers, and provide the largest environmental and congestion benefits.

Lastly, another factor in favor of a joint MTA/PA initiative is the FAA rule revision in early 2021 stating that “rail lines that do not exclusively serve the airport are now eligible to be funded by Passenger Facility Charges.” (FAA PFC Update 75-21). The LGA AirTrain project began in 2017 under old FAA rules that restricted Passenger Charges to transit projects that solely served the airport, and should be reconsidered in light of this change.

Thank you for your consideration.