The MTA — the agency elected officials usually try to distance themselves from as much as possible — has lately been serving as the model for effective post-Sandy recovery. And in a welcome turn, Governor Andrew Cuomo himself has taken center stage when all eyes are on the MTA’s performance. There are even real-time MTA service status updates on his website.
Cuomo has “made it clear to all New Yorkers, if there was any question” that he runs the MTA, Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Noah Budnick told Capital earlier this month.
In the past month, Cuomo has issued 28 press releases about the MTA, including announcements about service shutdowns and restorations. The governor’s other MTA press releases this year can be counted on two hands and are only tangentially related to the authority itself.
Hurricane Sandy marked a clear shift in Cuomo’s relationship to the MTA. During Hurricane Irene last year, which also led to a systemwide shut-down, then-MTA chief Jay Walder appeared at Mayor Bloomberg’s press conferences. In contrast, during this year’s hurricane response, current MTA Chair Joe Lhota has only made appearances with the governor.
Despite his recent willingness to take ownership of the MTA, Cuomo seems content to let the MTA’s in-house PR crew issue the press releases about one topic: the latest round of fare hikes.