At the moment the copious press concerning the MTA revolves around two and a half distinct political ends, one very visible and one regularly being pushed under the radar: The Bond Act and the Union negotiations (with a dash of the regular maintenance issues for good measure).
The Bond Act, which is on the block this election day, in the long term is probably more important than the negotiations, though not necessarily in the short term of public opinion. The MTA believes that it and the State Department of Transportation really need the $2.9 billion that the bond would give them access to in order to maintain and expand its operations. It especially wants this Act to pass since the last time such an act was proposed, for $3.8 billion in 2000, it was defeated handily by upstate voters. The MTA is so focused on getting this Act passed that it's lined up the support not only of Pataki and Bloomberg, but of Ferrer, Clinton and Schumer as well. And so far it looks like all of that support is paying off as opposition seems to be far less extreme as it was the last time around. In any event, we'll know how this one ends soon enough.
The ongoing negotiations with the transit union are another story. They are almost as much about winning public opinion as they are about the details. That's why, we suppose, we've seen so much crazy press coming out of the MTA of late (hence the talk of panic bars, reduced fares, and no-swipe metrocards). But just because you've been hearing so much nice stuff about the MTA doesn't mean the Unions haven't been working overtime to get their voices heard as well. Hence the public relations battle going on over OPTO on the L and, eventually more drastically, service notifications via e-mail which they first introduced earlier in the year. If you haven't signed up for them yet, now is as good a time as any (unless you prefer service advisories in an easy to swallow RSS feed in which case check out Disorient Express instead).