BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was in a “state of emergency” following a train derailment, a recent power failure and ongoing delays that have left city residents frustrated.
The governor said that the MTA has been faced with increased backlash due to daily delays plaguing city subways, the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit.
Cuomo, who controls the funding of the state-operated MTA, said that the agency was in a state of emergency last week after an A train derailed on June 27, injuring 39 people and causing massive delays on A, C, D and B trains. But tristate area residents have also recently contended with a power failure that caused an F train to get stuck between stations for approximately an hour, the derailment of two
New Jersey Transit trains within a two-week span and the derailment of an LIRR train that injured 37 people earlier this year.
“The delays are maddening New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “They are infuriated by a lack of communication, unreliability and now accidents. Just three days ago, we literally had a train come off the tracks. It’s the perfect metaphor for the dysfunction of the entire system.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria)—who recently proposed legislation titled “Better Trains, Better Cities”—said that he wants to see more action from the state to fix the MTA.
“The MTA crisis was years in the making due to neglect and underfunding by government leaders,” Gianaris said. “Today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo is an encouraging first step, but significant questions remain regarding the source of this new capital funding and the continuing budget hole of several billions dollars beyond the amount announced today. Too often, ambitious talk has not been followed by actions necessary to provide real relief for commuters. I will continue to fight for the millions of New Yorkers who suffer every day at the hands of the MTA.”
However, nonprofit Reclaim New York, which educates city residents on everything from affordability to transparency, called Cuomo’s announcement “a publicity stunt.”
The group said that the newly appointed MTA chairman Joseph Lhota wouldn’t be able to fix the broken system.
“It took the governor long enough to realize the MTA is in a state of emergency,” said Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir. “That’s something your average rider could have told you months or years ago. The governor should drop the desperate attempts to dodge responsibility and immediately demand smarter spending, not just more money. We can only hope the new MTA chairman lives up to promises to put commuters first.”
The governor’s state-of-emergency plan would include an additional $1 billion commitment from the state to the original 2015-2019 capital plan, despite the fact that the original $8.3 billion plan has not yet been released.
This executive order temporarily suspends contracts, leases, licenses, permits and any other written agreements that may be entered into for purposes of mitigating this “state of emergency.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.