mta subway The MTA established the Transportation Reinvention Commission to help modernize and enhance the subway system as ridership increases.
Credit: Miles Dixon/Metro

 

A new advisory commission is tasked with helping to enhance and modernize the region's transit system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Tuesday.

 

The Transportation Reinvention Commission, suggested by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month, will recommend how the MTA can better respond to challenges like increasing ridership, shifting demographics and extreme weather from climate change.

 

"The MTA has made incredible strides in rebuilding the network that makes New York grow and thrive, but we can never be satisfied with what we have done so far," MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast said in a statement.

 

Two co-chairs, including former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, will oversee 22 commission members.

 

Some commission members praised the formation of the group, particularly as mass transit use soars and who are riding subways, buses and trains change.

Brooklyn saw the largest percent increase in average weekday subway ridership last year, when the MTA hit a decades-high of 1.7 billion annual riders. More riders coming from different directions across the system creates new issues for the MTA, commission members said.

"There's a lot that's in motion and it's really to the MTA's credit that they're thinking ahead," said commission member Gene Russianoff, staff attorney at the Straphangers Campaign.

Superstorm Sandy -- which caused some subway tunnels to flood and hampered parts of the system for months -- exposed the transit system's vulnerabilities, said commission member and Tri-State Transportation Campaign executive director Veronica Vanterpool.

"We need to start planning transit projects with a keen understanding of what those vulnerabilities are," she said.

The group will hold public hearings and then provide a report before the MTA submits it's five-year Capital Plan, due Oct. 1. The commission's first meeting is Wednesday.

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