Photo Courtesy of Edwin Torres/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio has announced that the City will fund its share of MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s Subway Action Plan.
By Michael V. Cusenza
After many months marked by bureaucratic bluster, temper tantrums, and what amounted to a political pissing contest involving the City, State, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Saturday waved the white flag and relented: Gotham will perform the proverbial about-face and allocate $418 million for the Subway Action Plan.
De Blasio quietly decided to release the funds so the City can pay its part of MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s strategy to repair and rescue a decrepit subway system. His decision came down hours after the State Legislature and de Blasio political sparring partner, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reached a deal on the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The mayor reportedly was satisfied with several transportation items in the budget, including a $2.75 surcharge south of 96th Street in Manhattan on for-hire vehicles—both yellow and green cabs and rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft—to help ease vehicular congestion in the city.
“This budget appears to respond to the mayor’s demands on behalf of the city’s straphangers,” said City Hall spokesman Eric Phillips, according to the New York Daily News. “There are no excuses left for the governor to hide behind. He must do his job and fix the subways.”
De Blasio’s decision was music to the ears of City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“When Chairman Lhota first introduced his plan last year, we immediately called on the City to fund it. For months and months since, we’ve continuously released alarming reports that have spotlighted the delays underground, the economic ramifications of slowdowns, and the crisis in our transportation systems. Each time, we’ve continued to call for the full funding of the emergency plan. It has always been the right thing to do,” he noted. “Today, it appears action is finally happening. We’re glad to see the City taking this step forward. Now, it’s incumbent upon the MTA to deliver results for all New Yorkers.”
However, it’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time. A coalition of transit advocates indicated that it was disappointed that congestion pricing was not part of the subway repair funding agenda.
“Our transit system is on life support. Fixing our transit system should have been Albany’s first priority this year; unfortunately, the final budget does not offer a credible plan to modernize the MTA, nor provide a sufficient revenue stream to make it possible,” according to Transportation Alternatives, the Straphangers Campaign, Riders Alliance, and StreetsPAC. “The crisis in our subways and on our streets will continue, and New Yorkers will continue to demand action from Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers.”