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TRANSCRIPT: MTA Chair and CEO Lieber Delivers Featured Address and Participates in a Q & A Session at APTA’s TRANSform Conference & EXPO

Updated October 9, 2023 7:00 p.m.

On Monday, Oct. 9, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chair and CEO Janno Lieber delivered a featured address and participated in a question-and-answer session at the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) TRANSform Conference & EXPO at the Orange County Convention Center’s Chapin Theater in Orlando, Florida.

A transcript of Chair Lieber’s remarks and conversation with Dorval R. Carter, Jr., President of the Chicago Transit Authority and immediate past Chair of APTA, appears below.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber: It's good to be here. In this crazy MTA transit job you don’t get to travel much outside the 12-county region. So I came down yesterday and I got in the cab and I got to talk to the cab driver which is what I always do and my father, God bless him, did in 22 different languages. And as a New Yorker I asked him, so what are you guys doing about congestion? And he took me to Walgreens and pointed me to aisle five. So very different in Florida. Anyway, it's good to be here, I thank you – it's a kind of a lynchpin moment for transit and I'm honored to be speaking here in the middle of this great event.

Major plus for an important moment like this, we finally have an administration that is passionate about transit infrastructure and taking action in a big way. This has not always been the case. We all know what happened in the last administration or did not. But when I worked at US DOT in the 90s, in the Clinton administration, I recall a conversation with colleagues at the White House Domestic Policy Council where I was the DOT delegate and I said, we ought to make infrastructure a 1996 campaign issue, it was in President Clinton's campaign book, “Putting People First,” and they laughed in my face.

Well, they ain’t laughing now. Because President Biden enacted a $1.2 trillion bill the IIJA and it’s funding transformational projects and transit projects, not just highways across the country. Let’s give a hand for the Biden administration on that bill. And it was bipartisan, and that also is in light of what we're going through, very special.

Ironically, this is also in some ways, the worst of times for transit and though New Yorkers can be pretty parochial, ever heard that? I think our experience is in some ways similar, we are a little bit the avatar for what the industry is going through.

So, let's tick off some of the challenges:

Number one, ridership. Today, we're pushing 80% of our pre-COVID weekly ridership with roughly six million daily customers across all four of our major operations – subway, bus and the two commuter railroads, Long Island Rail Road and Metro North. But due to increases in fare evasion since the pandemic, we're collecting fares for like 75% of the pre-COVID ridership levels. And if your farebox recovery was roughly 50%, ours was a little better, 50% of your operating budget, that 20% gap in revenue or 25% gap in revenues, translates to a 10 to 15% structural operating budget deficit, what many of us are calling the fiscal cliff. For many agencies the gap is much bigger. I've seen numbers from around the country that are much in excess on a percentage basis of the MTA’s. This is no joke.

Number two, delivering strong service. I don’t know whether Demetrius Critchlow who runs New York City Subways and Rich Davey, the President of New York City Transit are in the audience, raise your hands if you are guys. Today, service on the subways is the best that it’s been in 10 years. Hands up for the guys who run the subway system in New York. And Cathy Rinaldi, who has been running both Metro-North and on an interim basis, Long Island Rail Road, last year delivered historic highs, 97%, 96% on our two railroads. This has given us credibility with riders notwithstanding the financial dramas.

But like everybody else, coming out of the pandemic we struggled with staff shortages. In the last 18 months we hired nearly 10,000 people. 40% of them in service sensitive positions like train operators, conductors and bus operators, mechanics and so on. The hiring was slow going. The applicant list that we had from below COVID just did not yield as many takers, as they did in years past. These civil service jobs for reasons that we’re all taking a while to understand are not attracting people at the same rate, but we did keep at it.

And again, I credit the folks at transit. One thing that made a difference I think is highlighting benefits and job security. There's no question that attitudes with work life balance and work in general are evolving and that is especially discernible in the fact that we're struggling in many cases to fill overtime slots. The younger generation does not take overtime as readily as some of the more senior folks. But there are a lot of people out there in their 20s and 30s and even in their 40s who have been in and out of the instability of high turnover jobs in the retail world who do value the job security and the benefits and the predictability and the teamwork that our industry has and that was part of our success story.

The third challenge is safety. The subway system and our whole mass transit system needs to be safe and it needs to feel safe. High profile crimes, which in the age of social media do go viral, crushed the subway system image for a while, but the numbers don't lie. The NYPD stats now show that subway crime is significantly down this year. And it's actually down 8% since 2019. That's right, notwithstanding what you see in the media, subway crime in New York is actually lower than before the pandemic.

The improvement began a year ago and we've got that photo on the screen at an event, a press conference where Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams teamed up and launched what we call the “Cops, Cameras and Care” initiative. Let me talk a little bit about each of those elements. We surged cops into the system. People had never seen the volume of police officers in the subway system that they saw in the first half of this year and the end of last year. And we began making announcements, this is something we instituted with our conductors, to let people know even if they didn't see the cops, if there were NYPD officers on the platform, they let the passengers know. It made a big difference. But we also accelerated the installation of cameras. There are already 10,000 in the system. We invested with Governor Hochul’s help in adding cameras very quickly, especially inside subway cars. As a result, when there are high profile incidents, credit to the NYPD, because they're getting photos of the bad guys every time, they are literally being apprehended 48 or at most 72 hours after and that has given the public more confidence.

But as we all know rider insecurity isn't solely about crime. It's also about the disproportionate impact of people struggling with mental health issues in the public space all over the city, but it's especially impactful in the closed environment of a subway train. So we also surged mental health professionals. This is the care element of “Cops, Cameras and Care,” we also surged mental health professionals, outreach, clinical professionals to help address the needs of that population to get them out of the subway system. This has not been a massive, transformational success. We all know that terrible story of Jordan Neely, the Michael Jackson impersonator who got into it and lost his life. But overall, the riders are perceiving a difference in terms of the impact that is taking place in the subway system and that has also been part of our success.

Of course, the biggest challenge for transit agencies has been just keeping the lights on during COVID. That image you see on the right is what we did to our buses at the beginning of COVID. We put chains up and closed the front door, we asked everybody to get on the back and actually not pay because our bus drivers were getting sick at very high rates. And it's one of the heartbreaking aspects of COVID that we will never forget, the workforce that showed up day for after day and made it possible for people who had to get to hospitals and to pharmacies and to distribution centers to power New York through COVID and the bus drivers were heroic, but that was the condition.

So, we work with everybody at APTA, everybody in the industry and with key electeds like Senator Chuck Schumer, the Majority Leader, to secure historic relief for transit -- $70 billion for agencies in the three COVID relief bills. But for many of us, and this is one of the challenges we have explaining it to people, that money runs out quickly. At the height of the pandemic, the MTA was losing $200 million a week – a week – compared to budget because of what was going on in terms of ridership. Now many of us, most of us, are now dealing with the consequences that we all call the fiscal cliff. In our case, at the beginning of 2023, the MTA was looking at a deficit of $2.6 billion for 2023 rising to roughly $3 billion in 2026.

Like many of you are now, we were considering the three things that I think of as the death spiral: fare hikes, service cuts, and significant layoffs. Everything was on the table, even gutting our historic $55 billion five-year Capital Program. It was, as I always said, an existential crisis. We knew we wouldn’t be able to solve the fiscal cliff without support from the state and local level and one of the things that we all in this industry struggled with is the absence of operating support on a regular basis. COVID was one thing, but normally we don’t get a ton of operating support from the feds. So we took our show on the road with Albany, and everybody else. We started, we at the MTA, my team did an amazing job starting a campaign that we called the "New Transit Compact.” Core to that initiative was making the argument that millions of New Yorkers, especially working class and low-income riders, depend on transit every day, no less than they depend on police, fire and sanitation, the three legs of the stool of what we all think of as essential services.

But I say it again and again for New Yorkers at least, I know we're a little different but for us, transit is like air and water. We need it to survive at our density and our city simply could not function. And transit is equity not only because our riders are disproportionately working class, even low-income, but because owning an automobile, which The New York Times just recently pegged at an average of $12,000 a year, is that transit is one of the few things that makes New York affordable. You don't have to own that $12,000 a year automobile. The comparison for transit is about $1,800 a year – an 85% discount.

So, we knocked on every door in Albany, there are some pictures up there of I think me at the SOMOS Conference, which is the annual conference that happens right after the election in November where the whole New York political class decamps to Puerto Rico and goes through a series of meetings not unlike those that we’re on, along with some very rowdy pool parties. But we took our show on the road. I can't tell you how many meetings we did, PowerPoints, community events, rallies, and we teamed up with the transit environmental advocates. This is a civic force in New York. Although they have not historically been big fans of the MTA; they’re usually our jeering section. And we did make the case to everybody in Albany, and that was key to our success.

I would also add that your incoming APTA Chair, Michele Wong Krause, made the point to me last night that we have to always make the business case and we did. We didn't just emphasize that transit is good. It's essential for commercial real estate values, it's essential actually for residential real estate values, all the data suggests that proximity to good transit has great positive effect on residential real estate, and it's essential for all the restaurants and theater and all of the businesses in the Central Business District that really benefit from easy access and that means transit.

But the other point that we made to the business community, we challenged them, look, you’re letting people come to work one to three days a week – but you want good transit five days a week or more – because you want people to be incentivized to come back to work.

And the amazing thing is the business community stepped up and said you know, you're right -- we're willing to pay a little more in what they call a Payroll Mobility Tax because we do want to make sure there's good transit every day. I consider that a man bites dog story, because not so often do we hear the business community stepping up and raising their hand when the question who's gonna pay takes place. But the New York, especially the big business community, the corporate business community, really did and I give them enormous credit.

But one other aspect of strategy that I would emphasize is that we put skin in the game from the beginning. From day one we said of this $2.6 billion we're going to find $400 million ourselves in our own operations without cutting service, without laying anybody off. And this gave us real credibility with elected officials and the media. Obviously, we're all gonna hear from people, “well you guys should just become more efficient,” everybody has a story about how some situation or industry proves that we’re not perfectly efficient, but you got to address that from the beginning and we did. And ultimately, we were heard. Governor Hochul made transit one of her top priorities in 2023 starting with her State of the State Address, I like jumped out of my seat when I heard what she said, and then in her Executive Budget, which sets the beginning of the budget making process in Albany. With her leadership, in the budget, state lawmakers created new revenue sources and put together a plan that gives the MTA a balanced budget for the next five years. Five zeros – an unbelievable, unprecedented victory.

One other part of the argument that we can't forget is that transit is the antidote to climate change. People are finally waking up to the realities of this crisis, perhaps the biggest challenge that our country and even maybe the planet is facing, and we are part of the solution. We have to get more out of that reality as a matter of political argumentation. And we shouldn't be shy about expecting bipartisan support. We saw it during the darkest days of COVID when things were tough, we were able to see bipartisanship prevail, and during COVID in the fight for all that COVID relief money in states with transit systems that had Republican Senators in their state. You know who you are, you heard from us and from APTA a lot, and your support, your advocacy and your messaging really did make a difference in the end in those COVID relief bills.

We have to keep reaching out across the aisle. We cannot let transit become a one-party issue, though many days it feels like the sell is pretty tough. But we do have some work to do to reframe the debate. There's been endless discussion about how transit requires a lot of subsidies, we’ve all been hearing this from time immemorial. You know what else requires a lot of subsidy? Treating kids for asthma because the air is polluted. Transfer payments to low-income people who can't get to where the jobs are because they can’t afford that $12,000 a year automobile. Building roads so people can believe that driving is free. Operating federal air traffic control systems so that we all can have the benefit of reasonably priced air traffic.

And after all, congestion itself is pretty costly. We have to make that argument effectively. It’s costly numerically for our economy, it’s costly for our quality of life. And we cannot allow, this has been going for a while, but I believe we're getting to a point where we can win the argument, that people to believe that cities, urban areas of America can build itself out of congestion. That we can continue to believe that building more roads are the problem. We have to win that argument. I believe this is our moment. As I said at the outset, we finally have an administration that is passionate about infrastructure. There are a few things I would say we need to do. First we, or DOT, hopefully with our help need to get the federal dollars out and demonstrate the value and impact of the IIJA.

When I was doing the World Trade Center Project, there was a lot, a few years after the Obama stimulus package, there was all this extra tax exempt financing lying around because it hadn't gotten out into the system. I actually used some of it for rebuilding the Trade Center with our team. We cannot take the chance that there will be money unspent, the benefit of the IIJA does not get through. And I believe that the leadership of USDOT, especially the Federal Transit Administration, is in a position to get that done and has the right approach. We also need dynamic leadership from APTA.

We have to be making the strongest arguments, developing the data, and connecting on a regular and effective basis with legislators. And to be more visible, more passionate about engaging on the fundamental issues, some of which I referred to. We can win the hearts and minds of Americans and of the elected officials in Washington to secure the future of the industry and deliver for its customers. So, I'm gonna leave it at that. I know we're gonna have a chat. I'm anxious to get out and look at the exhibition hall, full of all those great exhibitors and vendors also known as the MTA Alumni Association. But thank you all for listening. Thank you for bringing your passion to transit, which is a great mission that will make the difference for the country in the years to come. So, Dorval, let’s chat.

Dorval Carter Jr: First of all, those were great remarks. They are certainly reflective of a lot of the things that I know I say when I talk about public transportation, and I know a lot of my colleagues here in the audience would agree with you. You're hitting at the heart and soul of the issues that we both deal with every day, and the advocacy that you demonstrated [inaudible] of New York has been tremendous. So, I want to applaud you for that. So, listen, let me ask you a few questions before our session is over here. Rumor has it that you guys have a [inaudible] the other day. Just kind of curious to hear how, you know, how you are doing after the deluge of rain that you got and how the system’s holding up.

Lieber: Those are the guys who run transit. That’s why they’re sitting in the front row. So, obviously, it was huge and huge impacts. About half of the system was unavailable or partially suspended at different times of day, but a lot of the system ran and by seven o'clock we were fully back in action, which is an amazing testament to the resilience of the system and the work of the people. So, hands to those guys.


It’s not just getting the water out. You know, you guys are trained professionals. We know, you know, you got to reset switches, there's a lot of lubricating of switches, got to check the electrical components, track circuits because when the water gets up to the third rail is when that stuff starts to happen. But listen, we are getting there. Unfortunately, in the era of climate change, we get a little better at this, but I would say the preparation, number one that we made with federal assistance after Sandy has paid off.

They’re mostly coastal resiliency. So, when you have torrential rainfall and flash flooding occurs very locally, not everywhere. But the principal issue is that we have protected against the coastal, the impacts of coastal, which is saltwater and really can take out the system. So, [inaudible] major facilities that FTA invested in of ours post-COVID perform really well.

The other thing we did is, we get pretty good at preparing for these events. You know, the weather forecast is getting pretty good. We all obsess about it, but it’s pretty good. So, the day before, we knew this was going to happen, we held a press conference to tell New Yorkers this is going to be bad. It was a Friday. So, we all know that Friday is hybrid workday, it’s a nice euphonism, it's an off day, a lot of, at least for commuters. And, so we had light travel, we warned people. But, we'd also prepared really well with tabletops, and how do we manage through these kinds of events? I really recommend that. We do that very aggressively at MTA.

And then, the system, what people have to understand, is the system is incredibly resilient. We pumped 12 or 13 millions of gallons of water on a dry day when there's no rain. We pumped close to 20 million on that day. And the real inhibiting factor is the New York City sewer system which can only deal with an inch and a quarter, an inch and three quarters, in an hour. We got two and a half to three inches in some locations. So, that is what we're dealing with, is the outflow, the system. We have all this pumping infrastructure, again, thanks to FTA investments post-Sandy. We raised all of the pumping infrastructure out of harm's way. We got a ton more pump trains, mobile pumps, all the equipment. But if the system, if the pumping goes nowhere, you're out of business. So that's what happened. But again, we were fully back in action by about, including Metro-North, which was down in the middle of the day, by about seven o'clock, and that was, we thought, a great success, and New Yorkers gave us props for that.

Carter: You know, I did notice that in the media coverage, and there's a lot [inaudible.] Meanwhile, there are still parts of the area that were still dealing with the impact of the flooding. So, an interesting side bar, you mentioned Hurricane Sandy.

So, I was with the administration when Hurricane Sandy and I was actually put in charge of leading the traffic response to the federal cases. I got to see a lot of assessments that she made the infrastructure that you put in place afterwards, protect you against the surge as you play out that really came in, went right down into your grid system pretty references all watershed around Gao so you guys have done an amazing job. And certainly, this is an example where that there are so many kudos to you.

You mentioned in your remarks about the fiscal cliff. The challenges that we're all facing. But I also know from having talked to you that you are facing some structural financial challenges as an entity even before [inaudible.] And one of the things you are working on in New York, that's something that's starting to get a lot of interest, as some of the rest of us are starting to talk about, where do we find the funding sources to support the operating costs of [inaudible] of an agency like ours is congestion pricing. And New York is sort of on the forefront of that conversation. I think we’d be curious to hear where things stand right now on the congestion pricing front.

Lieber: Sure, congestion pricing is pretty straightforward, in an odd way. We can't not do anything. Congestion in New York is the highest it's ever been, we’re the number one city in the United States with congestion. New Jersey is the number one state, our adjacent state, and ambulances to get to hospitals, fire trucks can’t get to fires. God knows the Amazon vehicles that have become so much part of our economy are not functioning, in general, things like deliveries are not happening, and that's a huge cost, and it's a danger, so we have to do something.

In 2019, the New York State Legislature enacted congestion pricing, and I don't think it was personal, but they assigned it to me and the MTA, responsible for implementing it. So, we're just the implementor, although frequently it's sometimes misrepresented like I just went on a drinking binge and came up with this idea.


So, where we are is, after, the Trump administration would not cooperate in the environmental review process, the federal NEPA process, which is required, because some of the roads in lower Manhattan, Manhattan south of 60th Street, are federally funded. But the Biden administration did, and took us a couple of years, but we got the federal environmental approval.

And now, we have this special group called the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which is looking at how to set the tolling structure, taking into account all the requests, and there are 120 odd of them for discounts and exemptions. We have a request from farmers to have an exemption from congestion pricing, and you know, every possible group.

So they're gonna come out with their report pretty soon. But the import of this is, this is not something designed to put more burden on people. One thing that gets lost in the sauce is we have a million and a half jobs in the Central Business District, we have 140,000 people who drive to work. So, 90% of people who come to the CBD take transit, some few walk, or take a Citi Bike. But it's overwhelming a transit city, and we're gonna take that additional money, which is meant only to reduce traffic by between 10 and 20% and use it to improve the commutes of the 90%. And, hopefully, it will not only improve the commute for people who take transit, but the drivers will be spending less time stuck in traffic. So, there's real public policy benefit. But obviously, you know, there's a ton of controversy, we’ve got a lawsuit from our friends in New Jersey. And others may sue us as well.

I just want to say that the folks in the FHWA, USDOT Federal Highway Administration, that a lot of, an enormous amount of work, a 4,000-page, environmental review, I think it's gonna stand up. Four thousand pages. We studied every intersection from here to Philadelphia, from New York to Philadelphia. So, I think it's going to stand up in the end, and that we hope we set a path for all of us, trying to balance the needs for those who have to drive like trucks to get to CBDs but a few less single occupancy vehicles when we have the best concentration of mass transit in North America.

Carter: Well you know I made the point that in conversations that I had that the transit systems in our country are some of the best transit systems in the world in terms of frequency, their coverage, their availability. Our issue has been we need to invest in it in the way other countries invest in their public transportation systems. One side of it is, of course, is what congestion pricing can help with. The other side of course is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the capital funding, and the funding that we need to actually rebuild, renew, revitalize our systems so that they can continue to support the other policy objectives like climate change and air quality and other things that we talk about that really makes cities like New York or Chicago or LA or anywhere else livable.

Obviously we’ve had a very big success with the Infrastructure Bill and it’s brought a ton of money into our industry, historic amounts of money. I’m curious to get your thoughts on how that plane landed at MTA and how you benefitted from the opportunities that the bill has put forth.

Lieber: Well, listen, you know, we’re for us the formula capital is the best because it arrives faster and we have the $55 billion capital program, we’re trying to do a lot of different things so when I was at USDOT we always sort of rolled our eyes at the local agencies and the [inaudible] affiliates who said just leave the money on the stump. We’ll figure out how to spend it but I now understand that is the fastest way to get the money out. But the programs in the IIJA are well-intentioned, well-designed, taking on issues like zero-emissions bus where we have $5.7 billion. ADA. So, the programs, the target groups, the money for the Northeast Corridor. The question is how fast can we get that money out?

FTA is really experienced at getting money out. FRA is a little new to this volume of money, so I am thrilled that FTA and FRA are collaborating on how to make the regulations as simple as possible to streamline them and to put the money out as quickly as possible. I think that is the biggest challenge we face. Like I said with the Obama stimulus bill, a lot of the money did not have impact because it got out too slow, again no blame but that’s the reality. We want to make the IIJA impactful soon and one way to do that is to increase the flexibility of that pre-award authority. I mean I’ve made this case to the feds, if we get more flexibility agencies will start projects and start moving them in anticipation of getting the federal grant, and we all have to protect our downside if for some reason we don’t get the grant, but not counting the money that’s spent in advance of getting the grant means people are going to sit on the project and not get it going and I really urge my friends at USDOT that we figure out how to be flexible and encourage spending before the grant awards are made.

Carter: Well, I know that our friends from USDOT are here today so I’m sure that they will hear your message…

Lieber: I’ve heard it before.

Carter: And they’ll get a chance later in the conference – that’s a pitch for a session later on today. You mentioned the money that you received for zero-emission buses. A well known program. Record amount of funding is going along with that.

Lieber: Yeah.

Carter: It’s an interesting time to get off of money because we’re also facing some real challenges with the OEMs and the capacity that we have to build the buses that we need to address our initiatives. We would have a lot of conversation about that here in APTA over the last couple of days and one of the things that I’ve been asked to lead is a task force to really take a hard look at things that we can do to address some of the challenges that have been impacting the bus manufacturers that can help them get to the level of financial stability that they need in order to continue to function, and really to ensure for those of us as CEOs who are making very public commitments about our timelines for getting these zero-emission buses, for all the environmental activists that you mentioned.

Lieber: Yeah.

Carter: And now advocates and are also looking at you at the same time and saying – you probably want more diesel bus. I’m not going to be a happy camper. How do we ensure that we’re in a position to do that? I’d be interested to hearing your thoughts both about the industry and about how we should move forward to address this problem.

Lieber: Well, you’re right, I’m thrilled that you’ve started this special initiative and we’re going to support it and I think you and I talked a few minutes ago about having the head of New York City Transit participate with you. This is super high profile, super super high profile. Look, I mean, it’s no secret.

Everybody in America is getting into electric buses. We’ve piloted about 50 over the last couple of years. We’re buying 500 in the current capital program, we’re going to buy a 5,000 zero emissions buses, some may be hydrogen.

There is not sufficient production capacity so we’re going to have to get together and figure out how to get some standards that we can all use to make it easier for companies to produce one model or to streamline their production so that they can do more volume. We’re going to have to figure out how to reconcile our goals for domestic production with the reality that if we want companies to come here and set up shop we may need to give them a year or two to set up those plants and buy from them in the meantime. I support the domestic production, domestic content rules, but we need buses now so if there are proven buses that meet our federal standards and a company has committed to set up a production facility whether it’s in, you know, California or the Midwest or the South, or the Northeast and there’s a demonstrable investment in that that we can track, let’s start, we should get permission to buy foreign-made, foreign-manufactured buses from them in the meantime.

So, we have to act with urgency, that’s my overall take, because there’s no way we’re going to satisfy all of the demand for that technology and meet our environmental goals and spend the Biden Infrastructure Plan’s money if we just limit ourselves to the folks who are already certified and domestically manufacturing right now. So, we’re going to have to be aggressive and I think your group will come up with some of those ideas.

Carter: No, I agree with you. I think, if I was mentioning to you some of the folks people have been talking to about this. If you go to other countries and they have 10, 15, 20 plus manufacturers who are actually building for them to buy buses from. If you come to our country, we have three. Something is wrong here at a time when we have more money than we’ve ever had and have very public pronouncements on the need to buy these buses and buy them as quickly as possible. So, we are committed to moving it on the fast track and really getting back with some ideas of things that we can do sooner rather than later.

Lieber: And just plug for us, we’ve got a great bus team led by Frank Annicaro at New York City Transit. They’re here and they are talking to all these manufacturers in the course of this event so we’re in buy mode so look out competitors.

Carter: So, let me ask one last question and then I know we have to wrap up here, but you spent a good portion of your remarks talking about equity and the impact that public transportation has on the equity field, which I 100% support and have made a central part of the issues that I talked about when I was Chair of APTA. You guys have a, as Jean pointed out, a very robust capital program. You’re building stuff, you’re renewing stuff, you’re putting out contracts all over the place. I’m curious how things are going with you on the MBE/WBE/GBE front and how you’re sort of leveraging those opportunities for the work you want to get done.

Lieber: You and I talked about how we’re very proud of that. We do about, with our State, our non-federal money we do about, last year we did $800 plus million of spending to MBEs and WBEs under State certification and then we’re doing about somewhere between four and six hundred million a year on DBEs. Our goal at the State level is 30 percent – we’re hitting 32. The DBE goal is 20. We’re a little short of that – about 20 percent. One of the challenges that we face is, what we call the personal net worth cap, that these companies that in order to be to remain qualified this is under federal law the owner is capped at $1.3 million in personal net worth. Now in New York City if you successfully paid off your mortgage on a medium sized apartment you may end up exceeding that right.

It doesn’t mean you’re rich, it just means you paid your mortgage for a couple of years right. So there ought to be a discussion about raising the cap, whether introducing regional cost of living standards. In New York, for our State law, we’re up to $15 million in personal net worth. I don’t want to penalize a minority or women owned company or otherwise disadvantaged company because they started to get some business so we’re very much hoping that that can be a focus of our partners at the federal level because we want to do more DBE business. We’re doing great with minority and women-owned businesses but we do have a little bit of constraint in the DBE program.

Carter: Terrific, well, Janno, I just want to thank you for this great conversation. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you better, although I’ve known you fairly well, and to learn more about your New York story. And thank you all for being with us here this morning.

We’ll see you all right back here at 1:30pm where we’ll be able to hear from our friends at the FTA who may have some reaction to some of the comments that Janno had today. But thank you all.