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Andrew Cuomo

DMI to Gov Candidates: New Yorkers Need to Know Your Transit Platforms

John Petro and Dan Morris at the Drum Major Institute have a great op-ed in the Albany Times-Union today, asking the candidates for governor how they plan to deal with New York's transit funding crisis. With the largest MTA service cut in a generation barely behind us, the third fare hike in three years looming in January, a $9 billion hole in the agency's five-year capital plan, and a huge pile of debt that threatens to make future fare hikes steep and painful, the next governor needs to build support for bold funding solutions. Incremental steps won't cut it.

From top: Candidates Cuomo, Lazio, and Paladino. Photos via candidate websites.

But here we are, with less than three weeks until primary day and about two
months until the general election, and the candidates for governor
haven't given any indication how they'll handle the crisis except to make it worse.

Petro and Morris write:

State lawmakers must craft a long-term plan for taming the debt theylet grow out of control and for maximizing new sources of transitfunding without overburdening average taxpayers or the riding public.

That brings us to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomoand his challengers for the executive mansion. The next governor willhave to demonstrate precisely the kind of leadership absent in Albanyif there is any hope of reprioritizing public transit and fixing theMTA. So the media should push the gubernatorial candidates, especiallyfrontrunner Cuomo, to explain their ideas.

Cuomo's policyplatform doesn't mention the MTA. It includes only a brief endorsementof high-speed rail service between New York City and Buffalo, and asingle paragraph on a "state infrastructure bank" that would enablebetter coordination of state infrastructure funds and bettercompetition for federal transportation grants. Yet, on the stump, Cuomohas hinted he may roll back the taxes necessary to support publictransit. Some clarification is definitely in order.

There are millions of transit riders coping with worse service right now who only have higher fares to look forward to. The political response of the typical New York state incumbent is to deflect that rider anger right back onto the MTA. The candidate who wants to distinguish himself from the Albany status quo could start clarifying his transit policy in a very simple way: Start telling the truth about why our transit system is in deep trouble.

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