MTA Agrees to Meet Directly
With Community Residents

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Press Release

Date: Friday, November 12, 2004
Contact: Christopher Greaves, Communications Director, (212) 961-1000, ext. 304 or

MTA Agrees to Meet Directly With Community Residents
By Swati Prakash,
    WE ACT Environmental Health Director

Since June, WE ACT staff and community leaders living near three bus depots in Northern Manhattan have been meeting with representatives from the New York City Transit Agency (NYCT) of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In the spring, NYCT had essentially approached WE ACT to ask whether we would be willing to meet with them and discuss our differences. Initially skeptical of NYCT's intentions, WE ACT and community leaders Millicent Redick, Yvonne Mathews, and Charles Perry met cautiously with key personnel from NYCT, including Butch Seay, the head of bus operations, and John Walsh, the head of research and development for the agency.

Predictably, NYCT refused to yield on many of the issues of greatest concern to us-- reducing the number of buses in Northern Manhattan, ensuring the timely conversion of the Manhattanville Depot to clean compressed natural gas fuel, and guaranteeing that the Amsterdam Bus Depot, under temporary shut-down, remain permanently closed. However, the talks have been successful on at least one front: Transit has agreed to meet directly with affected community residents from all six bus depots in a series of "Resident Oversight Council" meetings to discuss and resolve community concerns related to depot operations, and to address broader issues of health and justice in Northern Manhattan.

Community leader Millicent Redick noted, "the meetings have been useful because it's, perhaps, the first time somebody from Transit has actually sat down and listened without dismissing our concerns. Just listening to each other is an important first step - if you can hear me, then we can get ready to move to the next level, which is hopefully correcting the problem. We are just at the beginning of the process, so we have to wait and see, but I'm hoping to see a real relationship develop that is in the best interest of everybody, both Transit and we, the residents, that have been so burdened by their poor operations for decades."

The first meeting of the Resident Oversight Council is scheduled to take place in October to prepare for meeting with NYCT. In the meantime, WE ACT awaits the finding of a federal investigation of MTA NYCT to find out whether the excessive number of diesel buses garaged in Northern Manhattan violates residents' civil rights. We also continue to organize to put pressure on the MTA to be more accountable to the public, to convert the Manhattanville Depot to Compressed Natural Gas without further delay, and to permanently close the Amsterdam depot and turn the facility over to the community. Over the next year, the MTA will be seeking approval from the State Legislature for it's five-year Capital Plan. This is our chance to bring the MTA's track record to the attention of decision-makers in Albany.

For more information or to get involved, contact Jamillah Jordan at (212) 961-1000, ext. 322.


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