Rider Representation Campaign

Campaign goals: 

The NYSTEA Rider-Representation campaign seeks to have at least two “rider-representatives” appointed to the governing board’s of the five largest public transportation authorities in NY State. A “rider-representative” is a person that meets the FTA criteria of being transit-dependent, and would hold a position with voting power on their respective Board of Directors/Commissionrs.

The NYSTEA coalition believes that the appointment of rider-representatives can support the implementation of equitable transit policies in terms of transit service, capital investments, public outreach, and other methods by which transit agencies serve their constituents, especially those dependent on transit.

Why a rider representative:

Currently all board members that govern the state’s largest transportation authorities are appointed through a process of local officials submitting recommendations for appointees to the Governor, who appoints the recommendations with the consent of the State Senate, or rejects the nomination. The Governor also has the ability to appoint board members without input from local officials. This appointment process has led to the disproportionate appointment of people for their business and management acumen, rather than their experience as users of public transportation. Or as one recent article said: “There are way too many people working on transit who don’t actually ride transit … If you’re going to be making decisions about transit, you really need to know what it’s actually like. Not what it’s like in theory, but what it’s actually like.”

Currently, upstate transit authorities have no seat for transit riders on their boards, and labor only recently garnered a non-voting seat. While the MTA does have a seat for a “regular mass transit user,” that seat has no voting power, and arguably represents riders in name only. Furthermore, when riders try to influence how transit governance through limited public comment periods, their grievances fall on deaf ears, demonstrating that riders do not have a meaningful voice in the decision-making of our transit systems. It is profoundly troubling that the decision-making bodies of these authorities do not include the voices of their constituents that are most in need. A rider’s perspective, grounded in the daily use and dependence on the reliable functioning of public transit for their livelihoods, must be included in the decision-making body of those systems – with voting power to enact change. The path to justice starts by having a seat at the table. There are currently opportunities, without changing legislation, to appoint rider-representatives to all major transit authorities in NY State.

Recent actions:
—  In September of 2014, NYSTEAs downstate coalition members submitted a petition with over 1000 signatures gathered from transit riders on MTA buses and trains to the Mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio, asking that he use two of his four recommendations for the MTA Board, for the appointment of a rider representative.

Sign the petition here.

— In September of 2014, a letter was also submitted to Mayor de Blasio asking that he recommend a rider representative, the letter was endorsed by over 25 local organizations and 30 city councillors.

See the letter to Mayor de Blasio here.

— NYSTEA recently produced a set of fact sheets describing the appointment process for the state’s five largest public transportation authorities, they are available below.

Examples of other rider representation policies: 

—  Southeastern, MA

—  Worcester, MA

—  Syracuse, NY

Other useful articles: 

—  Why the people in charge of transit should be required to actually ride transit 

—  Dogfooding: why transit employees and managers should use transit 



Draft Fact sheets

PDF versions can be downloaded here.


1. New York State Rider Representation Overview 



2. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – NYC/Downstate region



To see more click here.


3. Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) – Albany region



To see more about the CDTA click here.


4. Centro (CNYRTA) – Syracuse regionriderrep_factsheets_FINALDRAFT.2_Page_6



5. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) – Buffalo region



6. Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) – Rochester region



Fact sheets can be downloaded here in PDF format.



Letter submitted to Mayor de Blasio of NYC

RiderRepLetter-Final_Page_1 RiderRepLetter-Final_Page_2