Photo Courtesy of MTA/Patrick Cashin
The Riders Alliance called Cuomo’s “threat to scale back on necessary subway improvements…a transparent attempt to shift blame and accountability for our transit woes.”
By Michael V. Cusenza
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week announced it would reduce the size of its Subway Action Plan if the City does not contribute the funds that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has requested, and a leading straphanger advocacy group promptly ripped Cuomo for the threat.
The governor has said that the State can cover half of the plan’s $836 million bill. Mayor Bill de Blasio has refused to budge from his stance that since the MTA is essentially an Albany-operated entity, the State should pick up the check.
“Governor Cuomo’s threat to scale back on necessary subway improvements is a transparent attempt to shift blame and accountability for our transit woes onto the mayor, even though the governor himself controls the MTA,” Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said on Monday. “Governor Cuomo is holding millions of transit riders hostage in his dispute with the Mayor, even after he acknowledged that the subway system is in a state of emergency and promised to fix it.”
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota unveiled the two-phase Subway Action Plan in July. Phase One will attack the key drivers of the major incidents causing delays in the system, including signals, track and power issues, as well as water-related damage and corrosion, track fires, car breakdowns, police activity and station issues. Phase Two focuses on modernizing the system by addressing long-term, system-wide improvements, including better subway cars, the adoption of a new signal system and modern communications technology to facilitate new signaling and enable customer benefits.
In August, de Blasio unveiled what he characterized as a progressive City tax proposal – levied on fewer than 1 percent of the city’s wealthiest tax filers – aimed at raising as much as $800 million annually for the Big Apple’s deteriorating subway and bus system. The “Fair Fix” tax would increase the City’s highest income tax rate to 4.41 percent, from 3.876 percent, on taxable incomes above $500,000 for individuals, and above $1 million for couples. The tax, according to the administration, will be paid by an estimated 32,000 NYC tax filers.
And earlier this month, Cuomo announced the appointment of “Fix NYC,” an advisory panel tasked with coming up with proposals for a congestion-pricing plan that could produce a dedicated funding stream for the MTA.
“Governor Cuomo should lead with a strong congestion pricing plan that he alone has the stature to shepherd through the State Legislature,” Raskin added. “The mayor, for his part, needs to stop playing his own political games. The millionaire’s tax is a fair and sustainable way to fund public transit, but so is congestion pricing, and the mayor should drop his shortsighted opposition to the idea. He should focus his attention where he can make the biggest difference, which is reshaping city streets to prioritize public transit and implementing Fair Fares so low-income New Yorkers can afford to get around town.”