E. Virgil Conway ’56
An Air Force veteran who attended YLS on partial scholarship himself, Conway has spent a significant part of his career in a variety of public service positions, including a term as chief operating officer of the New York State Banking Department under then-governor Nelson Rockefeller, and later as a member of the Mayor’s management committee for reorganization after New York City’s financial crisis of the mid-1970s. < P>
Conway’s most recent and probably most high-profile post was his six years [1995-2001] as the Chairman of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority [MTA]. Under his tenure, the MetroCard and EZ Pass were instituted, stations were refurbished, new cars purchased, and innovative management techniques introduced.
But with his belief that “the essence of public service is the administration of government both to deliver necessary services and to increase the public good,” Conway views his greatest accomplishment as abolishing New York City's two-zone fare.
Why? The fiscal arguments might have been arcane, but, “The potential savings for subway and bus riders could be $2,000 per year,” Conway says. “For the working poor, that was significant. I had people coming up to me with tears in their eyes; one woman told me she could now afford to adopt a child.” And concerns about loss of revenue to the system were, as Conway had predicted, largely unfounded because the policy spurred increased ridership. “Everyone won,” Conway says. “When I was appointed I vowed to do this and it was absolutely the right decision.”