Bill Text: NY S02763 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced

Bill Title: Establishes an office of the transit riders advocate to receive and resolve complaints affecting mass transit users of facilities of the metropolitan transportation authority.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-01-29 - REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION [S02763 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-S02763-Introduced.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                    IN SENATE
                                    January 29, 2019
        Introduced  by  Sen.  COMRIE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
          printed to be committed to the Committee on Transportation
        AN ACT to amend the public authorities law, in relation to  establishing
          an  office of the transit riders advocate for the purpose of receiving
          and resolving complaints affecting mass transit users of  the  facili-
          ties of the metropolitan transportation authority
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1.  The public authorities law is  amended  by  adding  a  new
     2  section 1279-e to read as follows:
     3    §  1279-e. Office of the transit riders advocate. 1.  Definitions. For
     4  the purposes of this section, the term "executive director"  shall  mean
     5  the  individual appointed to serve as the chief executive officer of the
     6  authority pursuant to subdivision four of section twelve hundred  sixty-
     7  three of this title.
     8    2. Office established. There is hereby established within the authori-
     9  ty an office of the transit riders advocate for the purpose of receiving
    10  and  resolving complaints affecting mass transit users of the facilities
    11  of the authority and, where appropriate, referring complaints to  appro-
    12  priate investigatory agencies and acting in concert with such agencies.
    13    3.  Director.  (a)  The  executive  director shall appoint a full-time
    14  director to administer and supervise the office from a  list  of  candi-
    15  dates submitted by the permanent citizens advisory committee. The direc-
    16  tor shall report directly to the executive director.
    17    (b)  The director shall be selected from among individuals with exper-
    18  tise and experience in the field of advocacy, and with other  qualifica-
    19  tions  determined  by  the  permanent  citizens advisory committee to be
    20  appropriate for the position.
    21    (c) The director shall be authorized to  employ  qualified  staff  and
    22  other  employees  as may be required to perform the duties and responsi-
    23  bilities of the office.
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 2763                             2
     1    (d) The director shall:
     2    (i)  identify, investigate and resolve complaints that are made by, or
     3  on behalf of, mass transit and paratransit users of  the  facilities  of
     4  the  authority  and  that relate to actions, inactions or decisions that
     5  may adversely affect the health, safety and welfare or  rights  of  such
     6  users; and
     7    (ii) provide information and services to assist mass transit and para-
     8  transit  users  in  protecting their health, safety, welfare and rights,
     9  including but not limited to representing the interests  of  such  users
    10  before  governmental  agencies  and  seeking appropriate administrative,
    11  legal and other remedies to protect their welfare,  safety,  health  and
    12  rights.
    13    (e)  The  board, in consultation with the director, shall establish in
    14  regulations standards for the operation of the office.
    15    4. Review of complaint. (a) Upon receipt of a complaint, the  director
    16  shall  determine immediately whether there are reasonable grounds for an
    17  investigation. To the maximum extent possible, all complaints  shall  be
    18  resolved  within sixty days of the receipt of the complaint. Such inves-
    19  tigation shall be conducted in a manner prescribed in regulations.
    20    (b) The director shall not disclose the identity  of  the  complainant
    21  that  made  a  complaint  to  the  office of the transit riders advocate
    22  unless:
    23    (i) the complainant or his or her legal representative  gives  written
    24  consent to the office of the transit riders advocate; or
    25    (ii) pursuant to a court order.
    26    5.  Reporting  requirements. (a) The director shall annually submit to
    27  the board a report and make such report available to the public:
    28    (i) describing the activities carried out by  the  office  during  the
    29  prior calendar year;
    30    (ii)  containing  and  analyzing  data  relating to complaints for the
    31  purpose of identifying and resolving significant  problems.  The  report
    32  shall  report  separately  on data relating to complaints made by riders
    33  and users of the authority's paratransit services;
    34    (iii) evaluating the problems experienced by, and the complaints  made
    35  by or on behalf of, mass transit and paratransit users;
    36    (iv) containing recommendations, after consultation with the permanent
    37  citizens advisory committee, for:
    38    (A)  protecting  the health, safety and welfare and rights of the mass
    39  transit and paratransit users; and
    40    (B) appropriate state legislation, rules  and  regulations  and  other
    41  action  to improve the quality of services to the mass transit and para-
    42  transit users; and
    43    (v) any other matters as the director determines to be appropriate.
    44    (b) The information contained in such report shall be included in  the
    45  annual  report required pursuant to section twenty-eight hundred of this
    46  chapter.
    47    (c) Within sixty days of the submission of the  report,  the  director
    48  shall  conduct  at least one public meeting in each of the five boroughs
    49  of the city of New York to report on, explain and discuss the  data  and
    50  information contained in such report.
    51    6. Public outreach. (a) The authority shall ensure that the mass tran-
    52  sit  users of the facilities of the authority and the general public are
    53  fully informed and made aware of the office of the transit riders  advo-
    54  cate and the complaint process, including but not limited to:
    55    (i) establishing an easily identifiable and prominently displayed link
    56  on the authority's website;

        S. 2763                             3
     1    (ii) establishing a toll-free number for complaints; and
     2    (iii) displaying prominently the existence of the office and the toll-
     3  free  number  on  buses,  trains,  subways  and stations operated by the
     4  authority.
     5    (b) Such information shall be set forth  in  English  and  such  other
     6  languages as the authority deems necessary and appropriate.
     7    §  2.  The metropolitan transportation authority shall, to the maximum
     8  extent possible, resolve all complaints described in  subdivision  2  of
     9  section 1279-e of the public authorities law received by it prior to the
    10  effective  date  of  this act within 60 days after the effective date of
    11  this act.  Any unresolved complaints remaining with  such  authority  on
    12  such  date  shall  be  transferred, along with any documents and records
    13  related thereto, to the office of the  transit  riders  advocate  estab-
    14  lished by section 1279-e of the public authorities law for resolution.
    15    §  3.  The  appointment of the director authorized by paragraph (a) of
    16  subdivision 3 of section 1279-e of the public authorities law  shall  be
    17  made on or before the effective date of this act.
    18    §  4. This act shall take effect six months after it shall have become
    19  a law.