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Tempered by fiscal reality, MTA chief Walder unveils his vision for agency

Now on the job for 100 days, new MTA CEO Jay Walder outlined his goals for the agency Thursday, such as speeding up bus service and dumping the MetroCard for a faster payment system.

The 24-page plan, which Walder pledged to release after his first three months, includes other initiatives that the MTA’s new chief has previously trumpeted, like countdown clocks on subways and buses.

An earlier draft of the plan obtained by amNewYork, which was written when the MTA had more money, detailed additional subway improvements, including installing better signs, renovating stations faster and shoring up emergency communications. Walder said he’d only commit to things that the MTA could realistically afford.

“I certainly tried to be cognizant of the financial climate,” Walder said in an interview Thursday. “But we can’t let the economic downturn be an excuse to not improve service.”

The current goals are already funded or are of little cost, MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said. Scrapping the plan would not help the agency restore dozens of possible service cuts being considered, he said. The final package of cuts will be presented next week, Walder said.

Walder also pledged to streamline the MTA by reducing its:
* 92 different customer information numbers
* $500 million in overtime a year
* 100 storerooms located throughout the system

“That’s the bowels of the bureaucracy. It’s refreshing to see him be candid about it,” said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.

The MTA formed a committee earlier this week to start cutting costs, with its work starting immediately, according to agency communication


Jay Walder’s pledge:

This year:

* Speed up bus service by busting those parked in bus lanes at six stretches in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens
* Test out a faster fare payment system, ala E-ZPass
* Post clearer service change notices in designated areas of subways
* Make subway stations cleaner and paint them more frequently

By 2011:
* Implement next train signs at all stations serving the numbered subway lines


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