New MTA chief takes the reins

October 5, 2009 3:47:11 PM PDT
The new MTA chairman is now on the job, and his first order of business was to meet commuters Monday morning. Jay Walder arrived on the red-eye from London Sunday night. But he was out greeting passengers in Flushing at the No. 7 Main Street stop Monday.

Walder worked on London's transit system and developed a highly-regarded smart card there.

He rode the 7 train into Grand Central Monday, all the while talking with reporters about big changes ahead.

He wants countdown clocks everywhere, showing when the next bus or train arrives. Walder will likely do away with the MetroCard in favor of a much faster card you'll tap instead of swipe. And buses will get a lot of attention, even if it means squeezing cars out of Manhattan even more.

"I support the idea that there are 70 to 100 people on a bus, and if we can keep that bus moving, we are keeping New York moving," Walder said. "That's what we have to do. We cannot have our bus system stuck in traffic."

On the ride Monday morning, there weren't a lot of complaints about the subway.

"Actually, I take the 7 train all the time, and it's actually very good," subway rider Michael Cannon said.

But the bus system is another story.

"I think the subways are good, but the buses run a little slow," rider Shekira Carmichael said. "They could run quicker."

"I'm not very happy with the bus service," rider Evin Warner said. "It usually just shows up whenever it feels like showing up."

In London, Walder re-designed that city's high-tech bus system with exclusive bus lanes. He's well aware Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing to make crosstown buses free to keep lines down and keep the buses moving. Walder is not advocating that yet, but says he'll consider it.

"If the process of boarding the bus and paying your fare is slowing down the bus, we need to find ways to speed that up," he said.

Walder takes over for Elliot Sander, who resigned in May.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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