Do you have a gripe about the subways and buses? Does your community group have an idea that could improve the city's transit system? You can get your voice heard by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)!

A state law lets you speak directly to the people who run New York's subways, buses and commuter lines.

Here’s how it works:

1. The MTA Board of Directors and committees for New York City Transit, the LIRR, Metro-North and MTA Bridges and Tunnels all hold monthly meetings open to the public. You're allowed to speak at the beginning of each meeting.

You can speak out only on topics already on the agenda. But everything from the quality of subway service to crime is on the agenda every month. Other topics, like service cuts or fare hikes, can be up for discussion, too.

Meetings are held at the MTA building at 347 Madison Avenue, between 44th and 45th streets. Take the 4, 5, 6, 7 or S subway lines to Grand Central Station, the B, D, F or Q subways lines to the 42nd Street Station or the East Side or 42nd Street buses.

Here's how to find out when the monthly meetings are and what's on the agenda:

Call the MTA at 212-878-7199 or 212-878-7483.
Call the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign at 212-349-6460.
Call the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, state-mandated riders representatives, at 212-878-7087.
Watch your local newspaper for articles about upcoming meetings and topics.

2. You must sign in before the meeting to get a chance to speak. To register, arrive 30 minutes before full MTA board meetings and 15 minutes before committee meetings. The sign-in table is right outside the meeting room. The number of speakers may be limited, so register early. This will help make sure you get a chance to speak.

3. You are given only two minutes to speak, so you need to get your point across quickly. You will be called to a speakers' stand near the middle of the room.

Here are some tips for making your point:

  • Bring allies. Get them to speak too.
  • Write your statement down beforehand.
  • Time your comments before the meeting. (They are strict about time, with a buzzer going off if you run over!)
  • Stick to your topic.
  • Be forceful -- but it's wise to stay clear of arguments that don't make your point, like personal attacks.
  • Spell out exactly what you want the MTA to do.
  • Bring copies of your statement to give to board members and reporters who are covering the meeting. Reporters are usually in the area behind the speakers' podium. You can ask the MTA staff to hand out your statement to the board members.