Mayor de Blasio says city should run MTA if state can’t fix subways
Hizzoner wants the city — and not him — to run the MTA if the state can’t do better job.
Mayor de Blasio doesn’t exactly want control of the city’s subways — but if the MTA can’t fix them, he’d take it.
The system, run by the state and Gov. Cuomo, has been paralyzed by delays and failures in recent weeks, and de Blasio has griped that its board has not steered enough money away from other projects and toward signal upgrades and other underground fixes.
But would he want to run it instead?
“I wouldn’t say it like that,” he said. “I’d say if the MTA can fix the problem, that is the optimal solution. If the MTA will not fix the problem I’d rather have the city of New York run it.”
But, he noted earlier in the press conference, “that’s not going to happen anytime soon.”
Hizzoner argued the system was set up in part to serve a region but in part to obscure who ran the subway, reducing accountability. He said he favored a more direct chain of command and more transparency — but said the past had shown the MTA is capable of running well in its current set-up.
Whether he runs it or not, de Blasio said he’ll “be focusing on the MTA a lot more” — but rejected the notion from his mayoral challengers that he ought to be pumping more of the city’s cash into it.
He insisted the MTA has plenty of cash — including $2.5 billion from the city — and just isn’t spending it in the right way.
“They do not use their money in any way that is consistent with the reality of the ridership,” he said. “We need to rebalance that situation. That’s what I will be working to do.”
New York State runs the MTA.
(Thomas Levinson/New York Daily News)
But on NY1 Thursday, Cuomo said the MTA wasn’t quite flush with cash.
"For many years, it was a budget fight and money is scarce and the MTA will say their capital needs were underfunded,” he said. “The state stepped up big time last year, we have a $32 billion capital plan — the largest in history. The problem now is how fast can you do the work?"
And the MTA put the blame for lagging maintenance on the city.
“We have the plans, but we need the money and we need the city to pay their fair share of operating funds because their shortchanging mass transit is shortsighted for New York,” spokeswoman Beth DeFalco said.
De Blasio said while he supported some of Cuomo’s other large-ticket transit projects, the subways were in a “crisis” and needed to be the priority.
“My message to the MTA and the governor is show us the plan. I don’t think anyone anticipated the fullness of this problem, I want to be fair. I think a lot of the other things the governor is working on are great things,” he said. “But now we’ve got a new problem on our hands.”
The mayor took the subway for the first time since April 19 on Wednesday, and had to let two trains pass by because they were too crowded to board with his security detail.
“I’ve gotten on a lot of those and I was very expert at squeezing my way on,” he said. “Now I have all these other people who come with me. It messes up my approach.”