After Yet Another Subway Meltdown, Where’s Cuomo?
While he never misses a photo-op for a shiny new mega-project, Cuomo is "missing in action for the day-to-day disaster that transit riders are experiencing."
Straphangers were forced to deal with another chaotic commute this morning after a reported power outage at DeKalb Avenue triggered service interruptions affecting nearly a dozen subway lines.
Twitter was ablaze with photos and videos of packed platforms in Brooklyn and Queens:
— Matthew Kabel (@MattKabel) May 9, 2017
Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin released this statement in response:
Subway service is starting to resemble the notorious dysfunction of the 1970s, and riders are asking: where is Governor Cuomo? Governor Cuomo shows up to open the Second Avenue Subway, but he’s missing in action for the day-to-day disaster that transit riders are experiencing.
Subway riders leave for work these days not knowing if or when they will actually get there. Any one incident can be explained, but in the aggregate it’s clear that subway service is deteriorating and that riders are increasingly miserable. There’s no way to fix this without the Governor’s leadership, and where is the Governor?
As the subway system declines, Cuomo continues to fixate on shiny mega-projects.
Two weeks ago, in the midst of a series of subway and LIRR breakdowns, the governor spent an entire day celebrating a new highway bridge. In between this week’s two subway meltdowns (so far!), he announced a design contract for his billion-dollar AirTrain boondoggle.
In a statement, Cuomo spokesperson Jon Weinstein cast the governor as a heroic savior:
Our commitment to the subways includes the largest Capital Plan in history — with more than $14 billion for New York City Transit alone — and nearly $4.5 billion this year in operating support. These problems were not created overnight but there is no one more dedicated to fixing them than Governor Cuomo.
This is disingenuous in several ways. Here are three big ones:
- Those billions for the capital plan come almost entirely from federal grants and fare-backed debt. Almost none comes from direct state support authorized by Cuomo.
- Nearly all of the operating support comes from taxes and fees enacted before Cuomo’s time. The governor’s only contribution has been to regularly raid those sources of revenue to spend on other things, and to gradually erode the state’s meager contribution.
- Dollar figures convey nothing about transit riders’ experience. On Cuomo’s watch, subways are becoming more overcrowded and less reliable, while bus service continues to deteriorate and shed riders. He has not initiated, let alone delivered, the concrete policy changes that would accelerate efforts to turn these trends around.
Cuomo has been governor going on seven years. He’s had more than enough time to assess the major problems afflicting the transit system and get to work on solutions. At this point, transit riders don’t need Cuomo to save them, they need someone to save them from Cuomo.