Photo Courtesy of Riders Alliance
“This weekend was a wake-up call, and we will see further breakdowns until we modernize these systems,” said Brooklyn Borough President Adams. “The health and safety of riders and transit workers alike are at risk.”
By Michael V. Cusenza
After a week that featured power failure, cataclysmic flooding, and a massive signal meltdown that scuttled subway service, a large group of riders, advocates, and elected officials on Monday rallied outside Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters demanding from Gov. Andrew Cuomo an MTA capital plan that puts congestion pricing funds toward subway reliability and accessibility upgrades, and an MTA structure that recruits and retains experienced and competent transit leaders.
“The abject failure of our subway system shows disrespect for its riders. If we want our city to function, we need reliable and accessible mass transit,” said State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.
“This weekend was a reminder of how dysfunctional our mass transit system has become, with tens of thousands of rush hour commuters stranded on sweltering subway platforms and installed trains,” added Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “If we’re going to turn this crisis around, we need targeted investments in persistent underlying issues like our signal system and communications technology—not just the features for which you can hang a plaque or cut a ribbon. We also cannot overlook our bus system, which is plagued by low speeds and declining ridership. Real leadership requires putting politics aside and focusing on underlying solutions. This weekend was a wake-up call, and we will see further breakdowns until we modernize these systems. The health and safety of riders and transit workers alike are at risk.”
The MTA Board was scheduled to vote on Wednesday on the massive agency reorganization and Transformation Plan recently recommended by the consulting firm AlixPartners.
“Make no mistake about it, this transformation will allow us to finally give our customers the system they deserve, and prepares us to execute on what is likely to be the biggest capital plan in MTA history,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said last week.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Wednesday emphatically underlined the importance of the plan and getting it right. Following a 90-minute subway meltdown on all numbered lines during a heat wave last week at one of the busiest commuting times of the day, Stringer sent a letter urging the MTA Board closely examine the proposed Transformation Plan and ensure that the plan’s suggested centralization would not adversely affect riders and the City’s finances.
“The subway is the lifeblood of our city—and the MTA Transformation plan must truly deliver the lasting change riders need and deserve,” Stringer said. “Millions of New Yorkers and visitors rely on our subways, bridges, and buses every day and if our economy is going to remain strong, our subways must keep New Yorkers moving. Recent subway meltdowns have showed us in stark detail that reforming the MTA is absolutely urgent, but any reorganization must be done right. We have to ensure a thoughtful, thorough, and transparent process that’s fully accountable to its primary stakeholders—New Yorkers. I urge the Board to take a close look at this proposed plan, ensure it protects the best interests of riders and the City’s finances and vote for changes if not. We cannot afford to get this wrong.”