Today’s news:

Straphanger advocate members

The MTA next meets Jan. 27, but unless the state Legislature acts quickly, the proceedings could get underway without six members whose mission is looking out for straphangers.

The law providing for six non-voting Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members lapsed Jan. 1.

“We’re confident the legislation providing for the non-voting advocate members will be restored,” said Andrew Albert, an Upper West Side board member whose job it is to go to bat for subway and bus riders citywide.

“This law simply sunsets on New Year’s Day,” said Albert, perhaps the most vocal of the advocate board members. “Hopefully, the Legislature will act quickly.”

The non-voting advocate members of the MTA board include three who represent the riding public who take New York City Transit Authority buses, subways and commuter trains and three others representing organized labor in the transit system.

Although they are not authorized to vote, the advocates are consulted, kept informed on issues and given the floor to question, protest and generally look out for the interests of the riding public.

In other transit news, a state legislative committee rejected the MTA’s proposed $28 billion budget for its Capital Program, which involves big projects like the Second Avenue subway and the East Side Access to bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal,and sent it back to the MTA.

But Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said the move would have no immediate effect.

“They are telling us they are not ready as yet to go ahead on this matter,” Ortiz said.

State Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Garden City Park) told the MTA to try again.

“In light of the Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee’s veto of the proposed 2010-2014 Capital Plan budget, I strongly recommend the MTA reassess its needs in this matter and present a better balanced and more responsible plan to the Capital Program Review Board,” Johnson said.

All decisions by the four-member CPRB must be unanimous. Its members are appointed by the governor, the mayor of New York City and Senate president.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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