Although New York City’s subway is currently in a state of emergency, no government official seems to want to take ownership of the failing transit system. Governor Cuomo and Joseph Lhota, the recently appointed chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, called on Mayor de Blasio and City Hall to contribute more money for repairing the subway system on Thursday, citing a law that puts the city in charge of the track system. As the New York Times reported, Lhota and the MTA are preparing an emergency plan to deal with the subway, expecting more funds to come from the city. The plan, which Cuomo ordered the MTA to create within 30 days, is set to be completed by the end of next week.
Cuomo and de Blasio have frequently bickered over who should pay for subway restorations. Technically, the governor appoints members to the MTA board and controls the authority’s budget. However, according to Cuomo, the city owns the transit system through the NYC Transit Authority and leases it to the MTA. During a press conference on Thursday, Lhota said, “For anyone to say ‘not my problem, it’s the state’s problem,’ they don’t know the law. They don’t know the law and they don’t understand the relationship.”
The law Lhota is referring to dates back to 1981, during the city’s fiscal crisis and when the subway was in a deeper crisis than it is today. That year, on-time performance dropped by 50 percent and roughly 325 trains did not make it to their destinations each day on average. When the city was no longer able to pay for the maintenance of the subway, the state stepped in. According to the MTA head, that deal was never meant to be permanent. As Crain’s reported, Cuomo said: “It’s the legal obligation to be funding it, even though we stepped in on a moral level.”
The city has previously agreed in 2015 to put up $2.5 billion as part of the MTA’s $29 billion five-year capital plan. After declaring a state of emergency for the system, Cuomo pledged an extra $1 billion in capital funds next year, in addition to the already pledged $8.3 billion. A spokesperson for the mayor, Austin Finan, said City Hall’s contribution to the MTA’s budget has far exceeded its obligation.
“New Yorkers need serious leadership at a time like this,” Finan said. “Let’s stop the diversions and obfuscation and start spending the resources the MTA has on the repairs and maintenance that will keep New Yorkers moving.”
[Via NY Times]
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