This year’s Assembly had an incredible line-up of mainstage speakers who delivered a powerful call — to put the ideas from our Fourth Regional Plan into action!
See the highlight below or read on for more about it.
The morning began with Andy Byford previewing his upcoming release of a “corporate plan” to fix and modernize the New York City’s subway system, a task that he admits will not be easy – or cheap.
“Traditional sources of funding can no longer be relied upon to provide the fixes that are so desperately needed,” Byford stated. “We simply cannot afford and continue to ask riders to pay more before the quality of service is increased.”
Byford announced that the New York City Transit Authority would be rolling out a corporate plan within the next few weeks that will be ‘full blown renaissance’ to modernize the current subway system from top to bottom.
“Be careful what you wish for ladies and gentlemen, because that is just what we’re going to provide.”
Shortly after his remarks, Byford was joined on state by RPA’s Vice President of State & Advocacy Programs Kate Slevin and RPA Board Chairman Scott Rechler for a fireside chat. When asked about Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s ongoing feud and how it impacts the MTA, Andy Byford delivered a message that resonated with the entire audience:
“People say are you on the mayor’s team or the governor’s team,” said Byford, “I tell you whose team I’m on – I’m on the customers’ team.”
Introduced by former New Jersey governor James Florio, Governor Phil Murphy talked about his vision for creating an inclusive, thriving economy for cities across the state. He is deeply committed to improving transit as part of that vision and that includes building new tunnels beneath the Hudson River to replace the 100+ year old infrastructure that currently connects NJ commuters to jobs in Manhattan.
“We also are all-in on getting the Gateway Program funded,” Governor Murphy stated. “We are keenly aware of the connection between reliable rail service and our regional economic prospects. Quite frankly, businesses aren’t going to invest in areas where their workforce isn’t going to be able to make it to work.”
Howard Milstein, Chairman, President and CEO of New York Private Bank & Trust, presented the 2018 John Zuccotti Award for Leadership to Amtrak Chairman and RPA board member Anthony Coscia.
“Tony’s achievements build upon John’s legacy, as a giant of planning and public service,” Milstein stated. “The work of John, Tony and the RPA is about transformation and modernization for the next 100 years.”
And then, the moment that many attendees had been waiting eagerly for… former U.S. Senator from New York and former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton took the stage. And she quickly shared her excitement with the crowd.
“I have to admit,” Clinton said, “I looked forward to the Fourth Regional Plan the way some people look forward to the next Marvel movie. And it did not disappoint!”
For about 40 minutes, the former U.S. Secretary of State spoke to our region’s ability to lead the way and be the change our country needs to see.
“Now more than ever, we cannot afford to give up on “Big Ideas That Can’t Wait,” she said. “I believe regions like ours hold the answer to some of the biggest and most urgent challenges we’re facing as a country – challenges like how to achieve greater equity and affordability, how to build resilient infrastructure, and how to do these things in a sustainable way.”
From improving the economy to expanding job opportunities, to making housing more affordable for all and improving transportation across our region, Mrs. Clinton was sure to highlight many of the pillars outlined in the Fourth Regional Plan, and what it will take for us to bring them to fruition.
“We have to generate a sense of urgency and passion around our ideas for the future – starting with the 61 recommendations in the Fourth Regional Plan,” she said. “And, of course, we need to do more than talk about these ideas – we need to implement them.”