City Poll: Nearly Half of New Yorkers Don't Know Who's in Charge of MTA

The city's subways move close to six million people daily. But an exclusive NY1/Baruch College City Poll shows that nearly half of New Yorkers are clueless about who's really in charge of the system — a finding that advocates say is a huge problem. Transit reporter Jose Martinez has the final installment of our series on the City Poll.

Every straphanger has an opinion on what's ailing the subway system.

"Congestion, delays," one man said. "Every day, there's a problem on the trains."

"The biggest problem, I think, is that they don't come in time," a woman said.

But according to our Baruch College/NY1 City Poll, nearly half the city's residents — 47 percent — wrongly believe that Mayor Bill de Blasio oversees the nation's largest mass transit system.

"I'd say de Blasio," one straphanger said.

"I think, maybe Mayor de Blasio," said another.

Guess again. The MTA is a state agency controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, something only 39 percent knew.

Another 14 percent admitted they don't know who's in charge.

Advocates say such cluelessness has big implications for the system.

"It's really important for people to understand that the governor runs the subways," said John Raskin, the executive director of Riders Alliance. "Because if people don't know who's in charge, how can they hold the governor accountable when the subways break down?"

Asked for the top idea to improve the subway, 28 percent said more police.

22 percent want cleaner stations, and reducing overcrowding is third.

"I have to literally wait two to three trains to come just to get to work," one rider said.

51 percent said they do not feel safe on the subway at night, while 43 percent said they do.

Our pollster says those numbers are striking because of how New Yorkers feel about crime outside the subway.

"The vast majority of New Yorkers feel safe in their neighborhoods at night, walking the streets," said Mickey Blum, a Baruch College pollster. "But not so much in the subway."

The poll's questions weren't limited to existing forms of transit in the city; they also asked what New Yorkers think of de Blasio's proposed BQX Connector streetcar line.

51 percent approved of the $2.5 billion proposal, which would run street cars for 16 miles through neighborhoods along the East River in Queens and Brooklyn.

"This is an underserved community traditionally, so anything that makes it easier for the people in this community to get around Brooklyn, to get into the city, to get to work, I think, would absolutely be a benefit to the community," one resident said.

47 percent said they'd also like to see streetcars in other parts of the city.

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