The ongoing public debate over whether the state or city controls the subway continued this weekend when Mayor de Blasio, riding a Manhattan-bound F train on Sunday, demanded Governor Cuomo “take responsibility” over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The mayor’s comments come after Cuomo and Joseph Lhota, the recently appointed chairman of the MTA, called on de Blasio and the city last week to contribute more money to the authority for repair work. As the New York Times reported, de Blasio said the MTA has a lot of money that they’re not spending, including the $2.5 billion contributed by the city in 2015, to the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital plan.
The war of words from the officials intensified when Cuomo, despite grandly celebrating the opening the Second Avenue Subway on New Year’s this year, said: “It’s the city’s legal obligation to be funding it, even though we stepped in on a moral level.” As 6sqft covered last week, MTA Chairman Lhota, appointed this year by Cuomo, held a press conference to reiterate the governor’s claims. “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.”
De Blasio called the chairman’s claims “fiction” and that Lhota’s explanation made no sense. “The state of New York is responsible for making sure our subways run,” de Blasio said as he rode the subway from Park Slope to Jay Street Metrotech for a re-election event. “Again, everyone knows this. It has been decades and decades that the governor of the state, whoever the governor is, has named the head of the MTA and has effective control over the MTA.”
According to the mayor, the MTA has not spent billions under its control and said the state took $500 million from the authority’s budget to put into the state budget. “Give that money back before you talk about anything from the City of New York,” de Blasio said.
Despite the governor’s ability to appoint the MTA’s chairperson, oversee its budget and declare it in a state of emergency (which Cuomo did last month), the state doesn’t seem to be willing to take ownership of the failing transit system. In response to the mayor’s comments, Lhota released a statement: “What we need is leadership, not photo ops. The mayor’s comments today were completely disingenuous, knowing that the MTA is set to present its 30-day overhaul plan this week.”
[Via NY Times]
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