Four Decades of the Straphangers Campaign

Honoring Gene Russianoff and the Campaign's change-making transit advocacy
logo Dear Friends:
Our November 15, 2017 Four Decades of the Straphangers Campaign event was a great success, and we all had a wonderful time proudly honoring Gene Russianoff and the Campaign's vital, groundbreaking work for safe, reliable, and affordable New York City mass transit.
Highlights included an appearance by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, and proclamations from multiple City and State leaders recognizing Gene's amazing track record of accomplishments over the years.
We appreciate your generous support, and none of this would have been possible without you. Thank you!
Sincerely,
Blair Horner
Executive Director

Event Photos

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Straphangers Campaign

subway train image

The Straphangers Campaign was founded by the New York Public Interest Research Group at a critical time for New York City transit. By the late 1970s, the City's subways had become unreliable and decrepit. Graffiti covered every car and station. Transit fires and derailments hit record levels. Crime steadily worsened. Ridership plummeted to the lowest level in 80 years. Businesses cited poor transit as a leading reason for moving out of New York. The system had become a symbol of the decline of the City itself.

There has been great progress since then. Today, trains are 20 times more reliable. Ridership has bounced back. Transit crimes, fires, derailments — all have been greatly reduced in the last two decades. In 1997, the transit system started offering free transfers between subways and buses. In 1998, riders received the first fare decrease in the history of the system in the form of unlimited-ride transit passes. As a result, ridership has soared. In 2016, ridership broke records set in the late 1940s.

These improvements did not happen by accident. The Straphangers Campaign played a leading role in building a consensus for scores of billions of dollars in new investments in metropolitan transit — through our rider organizing, coalition building, research, reports, and media savvy. The Campaign is proud of our role in turning around New York City’s transit for the better, and our work is needed now more than ever to keep the system from sliding back into a state of disrepair. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to be a leading voice and a staunch advocate for quality, safe, and affordable public transit.

Honoree

Gene Russianoff
Gene Russianoff photo

Since 1978, Gene Russianoff has been a stalwart leader and unparalleled force in the fight to improve mass transit and reform government in New York City.

As Senior Attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene has helped revive mass transit as a vital engine for the City’s economy and an essential conduit for its residents and visitors — with subway ridership now at its highest level since the late 1940s. This achievement was advanced by his efforts to win, among other important victories: unlimited-ride passes, free subway-to-bus transfers, and $105 billion in funds to rebuild the subway and bus system since 1982.

NY1 named Gene a "New Yorker of the Year" in 1997 for his coalition work to win unlimited-ride MetroCards (see The New York Times article on his efforts), and he was profiled in The New York Times in 2013 and again in 2017. Gene has always taken full advantage of his expert media savvy to garner frequent coverage that shines a light on the urgent need to benefit riders.

In addition, Gene has played a major role in reforming New York City's political system. In 1988, he successfully lobbied for the City’s landmark campaign finance reform law, now a national model. Gene's work also helped result in the creation of the City’s Independent Budget Office. Currently, he co-chairs a coalition advocating for more openness of government in an age of technology.

Gene was awarded the 1994 Public Service Achievement Award by the National Board of Common Cause and was a Charles H. Revson Fellow at Columbia University in 1983. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College (1974) and Harvard Law School (1978).

Host Committee


Tabitha Decker
Judith Enck
Li Howard
Chris Meyer
Jon Orcutt
Neysa Pranger
Mike Pratt
Joe Rappaport
John Raskin
Larry Shapiro
Pete Sikora
Susan Stamler
Paul Steely White
Michelle Stern
Veronica Vanterpool
Lee Wasserman
Tom Wathen

Special Thanks


Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore
Barak Berkowitz
Susan Stamler & Chris Meyer
Mike Pratt
Rockefeller Family Fund
Michelle Stern
Larry Rockefeller
William Henderson
Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
Transportation Alternatives
Riders Alliance
Dave Fields
Gavin Fraser & Jeannine Kerr
Seth Frazier
Seth Orlow & Myra Freed
Neysa Pranger
Donald K. Ross & Arthur N. Malkin
Bernard & Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust
Benjamin Sussman
AARP New York
TransitCenter
State senators call on MTA to abide by open meeting laws when weighing capital projects  (Daily News, August 21, 2019)
Advocates seek feedback from riders amid lack of transparency from MTA on subway upgrades  (Daily News, August 15, 2019)
Transit advocates push for Bronx bus network funding  (AM New York, August 14, 2019)
Bronx pols demanding more MTA money for bus service  (Daily News, August 13, 2019)
MTA's new fare system OMNY hits millionth tap  (AM New York, August 13, 2019)
Advocates 'honor' Queens bus routes  (Queens Chronicle, July 25, 2019)
NYC Bus Gets Award for Being the Worst, Slower Than a Manatee  (NBC 4 New York, July 24, 2019)
Award-winning buses: Brooklyn buses are least reliable in the city  (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 24, 2019)
MTA's M14A bus named slowest in NYC, with average speed of 4.3 mph  (AM New York, July 23, 2019)
Slowest bus in NYC moves at 4.3 mph, earns "Pokey Award"  (Daily News, July 23, 2019)
Straphangers Campaign names annual Schleppie, Pokey awards for poor bus service  (ABC Eyewitness News, July 23, 2019)
NYC's slowest bus goes only 4.2 mph, which is slower than a manatee  (New York Post, July 23, 2019)
Pokey Awards: This Staten Island bus averages less than 8 mph  (Staten Island Live, July 23, 2019)
Transit Group Names M14A Bus Slowest In New York City  (1010 WINS, July 23, 2019)
NYS Department of Health limiting chemicals in water  (WIVB, July 10, 2019)
State health commissioner accepts recommendations for maximum contaminant levels in drinking water  (Mid-Hudson News, July 9, 2019)
Lawmakers call for exemptions from NYC's controversial congestion pricing plan  (New York Post, July 6, 2019)
NYPIRG's Liz Moran reviews how environmental issues fared in the recent New York State Legislative session  (The Sanctuary for Independent Media, June 26, 2019)
Electric Car Charging Stations Coming to Park Slope in Fall 2019  (Bklner, June 21, 2019)
Transit advocates hail bus lane bill that removes cap on camera enforcement  (Queens Daily Eagle, June 19, 2019)
News Archive
Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter Release 2019 Pokey and Schleppie "Awards" for Slowest Buses
NYPIRG Statement Applauding Signature of Climate Legislation
NYPIRG statement on proposed PFOA, PFOS, 1,4-dioxane MCLs
Tale of the Tape: NYPIRG’s 2019 Legislative Review
NYPIRG Statement on Climate Legislation
NYPIRG Analysis of NY Climate Leadership and Protection Act
Albany Money Machine 2019
NYPIRG leads effort to respond to growing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Joins with state lawmakers, health and environmental groups, and medical professionals to curb overuse and misuse of antibiotics
Report: What's in My Water? Emerging Contaminants in New York's Drinking Water Systems
News Release: New NYPIRG Report Reveals Prevalence of Emerging Contaminants in New York Drinking Water Supplies
Civic Organizations Release 50-state Review of States' Ethics Boards
NYPIRG Statement on Rejection of Water Permit for Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Project
NYPIRG Statement on State Environmental Budget
Release: Albany Money Machine 2019
NYPIRG Reviews Governor, Senate and Assembly Budget Plans on Key Issues
News Release: Organizations Respond to One-House Budgets on Water Infrastructure Spending
Letter: Organizations Support Bottle Deposit Law Expansion
Students Deliver 4,500 Petitions Calling for Increased Water Funds in State Budget
NYPIRG Statement on H.R. 1 Passage and Calls for State Law for Small Donor Public Financing of Campaigns
Letter: Organizations call for increased water infrastructure funding
Reports & Features Archive