Author: John Raskin

John Raskin, Executive Director, is an organizer and political leader with extensive experience in New York City and State politics. Prior to co-founding the Riders Alliance, he served as chief of staff to New York State Senator Daniel Squadron. Prior to that, he worked for five years as a community organizer and director of organizing for Housing Conservation Coordinators, an affordable housing advocacy organization on the West Side of Manhattan.

Has your subway gotten worse?

subwayhorrorstoriesqns-7Our members report that subway service has been a disaster this week. Trains not arriving, hours spent underground… Has this happened to you?

If so, please share your subway horror story with us.  We’re collecting riders’ stories to take to Governor Cuomo and members of the state legislature, who have to decide whether or not to fully fund the next MTA capital plan.

Our elected leaders need to know that their decisions have real impacts on people’s lives.  It’s MTA capital funding that pays for new signals, new train cars–all of the things that have been breaking down all over town.  And there is a $15 billion gap in the next MTA capital plan.

Share your subway horror story today.  Give us the gory details on our web site, or tweet at us @RidersNY with our hashtags #SubwayStruggles #ThanksCuomo.

Help us tell lawmakers: transit funding matters, and bankrupting the MTA has consequences. Share your subway story and we’ll take it to the top!


Riders Alliance 2015 Campaign Plan

Neighborhood by neighborhood, Riders Alliance members are fighting for better public transit service at affordable fares for all New Yorkers. We hope you’ll join us as we embark on our ambitious 2015 agenda!

Some of our 2015 campaigns include:


1. State Funding for Public Transit
Metrocard fares are rising yet again–for the fifth time in just seven years. If Governor Cuomo and legislators don’t step up and do their part to fund the MTA’s 5-year capital plan, riders could face even larger fare hikes in the future. We’re organizing riders to fight for the funds we need to keep our subways and buses running–without another enormous hike in transit fares. Visit to join the fight for fair fares!

2. Bus Rapid Transit for NYC
Almost 900,000 New Yorkers commute more than an hour each way to work, and that number is growing. Bus Rapid Transit can help: a real BRT system would help hundreds of thousands of people spend less time in transit and more time at home with their families. Riders Alliance members are pushing for BRT on key corridors around the city:

  • Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens
  • Flushing-Jamaica in Queens
  • Utica Avenue in Central Brooklyn
  • 86th Street in Manhattan

Visit to learn what you can do to help win this important–and cost-effective–improvement for bus riders.

3. Improving the C Train in Central Brooklyn
The C train is notoriously infrequent and unreliable, but it’s a lifeline for many New Yorkers—especially in Central Brooklyn, where riders have no other options.  We won a Full Line Review of the A and C trains; now it’s time to make sure that review leads to real changes.  Visit to get involved.

4. Implementing Pre-Tax Transit Benefits

Last year we won important new citywide legislation that expands access to pre-tax transit benefits—which could help save the average New Yorker making the median wage as much as $443 per year. We estimate that 450,000 New York City residents will newly gain access to transit benefits when the bill goes into effect. Our next job is to follow though and make sure that the city implements this new law as effectively and aggressively as possible. Contact to help out.

5. Expanding Countdown Clocks
In 2014, we won $3 million in new funds in the City budget to expand the number of bus stop countdown clocks in the city—from only a handful of bus stop countdown clocks right now to more than 100 next year. In 2015, we’re going to keep up the pressure to make sure these bus stop countdown clocks are actually installed, and to make them cheaper so we can win more.  We may even expand our countdown clock campaign to include the lettered subway lines that still don’t have this popular technology. Contact to let us know you’re on board.

6. …and more!
What is your idea to improve public transit? Riders Alliance is always looking for ideas to improve public transit in New York. Please tell us what will make your commute better—we welcome input on concerns as universal as “I think crosstown buses should be free” and as specific as “the signage is confusing at my subway station.” How could subway or bus service improve for you? Tell us here.

Mayor Signs Our Transit Benefits Bill

Big news for riders! Mayor De Blasio signed Council Member Garodnick’s new legislation that will help hundreds of thousands of transit riders save money on subway and bus fares with pre-tax transit benefits.


Riders Alliance member Mimi telling the press what pre-tax transit benefits can do for riders.

Transit benefits make riding the subway and bus more affordable by allowing workers to set aside up to $130 per month in pre-tax earnings to pay for public transit. Council Member Garodnick’s legislation will expand access to these savings by requiring employers of 20 or more people to offer this benefit in New York City.

The Riders Alliance analysis estimates that:

· Council Member Garodnick’s bill would allow an estimated 450,000 new people to take advantage of the transit tax break

· An average New Yorker who makes the median wage could save $443 every year with the transit tax break

· Businesses who sign up save money too: for every employee at the median wage who signs up, businesses can save $103 every year in taxes

· If the bill is signed into law, New Yorkers will keep more than $50 million each year in the local economy instead of spending the money on taxes.


Thanks to Council Member Dan Garodnick for his leadership and the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign for working alongside us to pass this bill. And special thanks to Riders Alliance grassroots members who worked hard to make this savings a reality for more New Yorkers!

We won bus countdown clocks!

bus countdown clock rally photo FINALBig news for bus riders: 11 City Council Members and the Brooklyn Borough President approved over $2.8 million to install countdown clocks at bus stops across the city!

Bus countdown clocks are a major step forward in improving the daily commutes of riders in all five boroughs. See details at WNYC, CBS, DNAinfo, NY1, amNY and Metro.

Bus countdown clocks will now be appearing in the following districts:

Bronx:  Fernando Cabrera ($113,000); Andrew Cohen ($40,000)
Brooklyn:  Brad Lander ($240,000); Mark Treyger ($100,000), Borough President Eric Adams ($60,000)
Manhattan: Margaret Chin ($260,000); Dan Garodnick ($950,000); Corey Johnson ($35,000); Ben Kallos ($640,000)
Queens: Eric Ulrich ($180,000); Mark Weprin ($35,000)
Staten Island: Steven Matteo ($200,000)

This victory is testament to the power of organizing: thank you to our grassroots Riders Alliance members who worked alongside our allies in City Council to make this city-wide improvement happen.

Our Ambitious 2014 Agenda

Mayor-elect de Blasio has promised 20 Bus Rapid Transit routes to help beleaguered commuters.

Mayor-elect de Blasio has promised 20 Bus Rapid Transit routes to help beleaguered commuters.

Thank you to all our members for a fantastic 2013.

For an organization that’s only 18 months old, we’ve already made great strides.

This year alone, we won:
25% more G trains throughout the afternoon and evening;
• Buses that run earlier, later and more often on the Astoria and Long Island City waterfront;
Station improvements for N and Q train riders; and
• Additional services for riders affected by the R and G train tunnel construction. Continued…