MTA announces ‘Fareness’ Blue-Ribbon Panel co-chairs

July 18, 2022
Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, executive director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University (NYU); and Roger Maldonado, partner at Smith Gambrell LLP, were appointed as co-chairs.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) appointed two co-chairs to the agency’s Blue-Ribbon Panel to combat fare and toll evasion.  

Roger Maldonado, partner at Smith Gambrell LLP and former president of the New York City Bar Association, and Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, executive director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University (NYU), have been appointed as co-chairs of the panel. Their appointment as members of the panel was previously announced by the MTA in April 2022.  

As co-chairs, Maldonado and Pierre-Louis will be leading the Fareness Blue-Ribbon Panel’s efforts to find fresh, equitable and effective new responses to fare and toll evasion. The panel is focused on developing a better understanding of the evasion issue and developing new strategies that encourage fare and toll payment with attention to issues of education, equity, enforcement and environment (facility design and transit technology).  

“Rose Pierre-Louis and Roger Maldonado are bringing years of invaluable experience from their diverse and successful careers,” said MTA Special Counsel Jeremy Feigelson, who leads MTA staff support for the panel. “Their previous work in public service and leadership positions align with the foundational goals of the MTA’s Fareness Blue-Ribbon Panel to bring fresh eyes to this issue, and we look forward to their leadership and that of the panel, comprised of professionals who come from across the New York area and from many different backgrounds.” 

MTA says Pierre-Louis is a highly recognized public sector leader known for driving social and economic change. Her current role as executive director at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at NYU focuses on leading the mission of disrupting poverty through research, policy and action. Pierre-Louis completed her undergraduate studies in political science at Tufts University and earned a law degree at Case Western University School of Law.  

“A safe and well-funded public transit system is vital to the well-being of our city’s residents and especially for those who have no other way of getting to work, school, their homes and all of the places they need to in order to thrive,” said Pierre-Louis. “I look forward to working with my Co-Chair Roger Maldonado and the rest of this Blue-Ribbon Panel as we recommend solutions for evasion that educate commuters about discounts and approach enforcement in an equitable manner.”  

Maldonado’s more than 40 years of experience includes practicing a diverse array of law ranging from commercial, intellectual property, real estate employment and education law. Maldonado worked on fair housing impact litigation in New York City and Westchester County at the Anti-Discrimination Center. There he served as one of the lead attorneys on Noel v. City of New York, a challenge brought under federal and local law to a decades-old affordable housing lottery preference policy that impacted millions of low-income New Yorkers. Maldonado completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University and obtained a law degree from Yale.  

“Our panel seeks to help all residents of the greater New York City area who use the MTA better understand their responsibility to support public transit by paying their fair share,” said Maldonado. “Many of these residents primarily should be given the opportunity and information about how to enroll in programs that make our transit system more affordable for those New Yorkers who need assistance.” 

MTA says farebox and toll revenue account for approximately 40 percent of the the operating budget. Payment evasion recently has spiked to more than 12 percent on the subway and more than 31 percent on New York City Transit buses, says MTA.  

Evasion on the MTA’s nine tolled bridge and tunnel crossings has also become an issue, with losses for this year estimated at $50 million due to fake and obscured license plates designed to evade tolling cameras. The panel is looking at all these issues as well as at fare compliance on the MTA’s commuter rail lines, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. 

The work of the panel is actively underway. That work includes full panel meetings, as well as meetings of the panel’s working groups on education, equity, enforcement and environment. Among other things, the panel is reviewing social science research on the causes and mitigation of payment evasion; visiting MTA facilities to observe operations, fare control systems and enforcement activities; assessing current subsidy programs for riders and how those programs can be improved; conducting focus groups; engaging with the design, construction and technology communities to look at (for example) how subway station entrances, exit gates, and fare control mechanisms can be employed to reduce evasion; and engaging with police, district attorneys, and public interest legal organizations to review current approaches to enforcement and consider how those approaches can be improved in fresh, equitable and effective ways. A panel report with recommendations is expected in the fall.