Fed Up With the Latest Fare Hike? Be Sure to Say #ThanksCuomo

It’s easy to get annoyed with the MTA: Your train is slow and crowded, the station is dirty, the bus is late — and to top it off, you just got hit with another fare hike. You’re paying more for deteriorating service, and the only place to direct your anger is a faceless bureaucracy known as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Is there anyone responsible for this mess?

Andrew "Straphanger" Cuomo. Photo: MTA/Flickr
Meet the man responsible for your fare hike. Photo: MTA/Flickr

Actually, yes. Governor Andrew Cuomo appoints the authority’s leadership and he calls the shots in Albany when it comes to figuring out the MTA’s finances.

So far, the governor’s reaction to his agency’s escalating debt and declining service quality has been little more than a shrug.

In his first term, Cuomo worked with suburban legislators to hack away at one of the MTA’s most important dedicated funding sources, then looted the authority’s budget while denying it was a raid. More recently, he said the authority’s five-year investment plan was “bloated,” and his latest budget actually cuts the state’s contribution to the MTA’s capital program.

When there’s an opportunity to cut tolls before an election or announce post-Sandy recovery initiatives, the governor makes sure the press release comes straight from his office, and he’ll never miss the photo-op.

But when the fare rises or it’s time to keep the system in good working condition? Then the MTA is someone else’s problem.

Cuomo has twice gone out his way to dismiss the plan to reduce the threat of future fare hikes by reforming the region’s dysfunctional toll system. Although former congestion pricing opponents have come around to support the plan, the governor insists that the political reality hasn’t changed since 2008.

The political dynamic could change overnight if the man in charge of the MTA said that toll reform is worth considering. Andrew Cuomo could be the governor who puts a stop to runaway debt backed by higher fares. He could be the governor who fixes New York’s worst traffic bottlenecks and stabilizes fares for subway and bus riders. He could be the governor who tackles the MTA’s sky-high labor and capital expenses while modernizing equipment to create a stronger, more reliable subway system.

Instead, we have a governor who won’t touch the status quo.

  • Emmily_Litella

    Our downstate votes are taken for granted. The suckers show up every election with hope and change fairies dancing around their heads. The farce we call democratic elections only works because we give our consent.

  • Cuomo must drive, or be driven like a child everywhere. In Sweden, the Prime Minister and staff ride true subways to work every day. Thus, the subways are immaculate.

    We need to encourage this kind of change here. Give leaders subway cards in place of $750.00 a month car allowances. (They don’t even use our money for a Tesla, at least to show leadership.)

  • Vinstar

    Dirty is an understatement. NY subways are suitable only for the rats not human beings.

  • stairbob

    Votes? Cuomo doesn’t need any more votes.

  • Guest

    Oh, oops. I mistakenly thought there was 2 term limit. There is not.

  • Jimmy

    Let me say something both a bit tongue-and-cheek and totally serious at the same time… I say, let Albany raid the MTA’s coffers!! The MTA hasn’t proven they know how to spend the money well. Might as well spend it on something else!

    Absurdly overinflated construction and rehab projects are a start. $1.4+ Billion for the Fulton Street Transfer Center?! Sure, that was the lowest bidder… but the lowest bidder was still disconnected from reality. Lots of rich construction company owners and architects and mediocre quality. And now we’re saddled with the debt service basically forever.

    And the regular everyday maintenance and cleaning?! What about the lovely customer service? I don’t blame the individual workers. They do what they’re asked. I blame the inept middle and upper management. No standards. No oversight. No accountability.

  • AlexWithAK

    So you’re suggesting that the solution to Albany’s abdication of
    responsibility to the MTA is to just let them keep doing what they’re
    doing? That is a horrible idea, even if partially in jest. The state is responsible for many of the systemic problems at the MTA. The governor is the one that has the power to come in and say, “OK, no more of this overpriced construction.” The governor is the one who has the ability to put the screws on regarding maintenance, cleanliness, and reliability.

    Yes the MTA has its issues, but the governor and Albany are the ones with the power to bring change. You want to “punish” the MTA but in reality you would be punishing the riding public of NYC by letting Albany completely off the hook for its responsibilities. I cannot think of a worse way to deal with the problems.

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