If your car broke down on the side of the road and a tow-truck operator told you he’ll be able to help you in a few months, you’d hang up on him. But that’s essentially what Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo are doing to New Yorkers who are already struggling mightily with the city’s subway system.
Last August, the mayor rolled out his rescue plan for straphangers – a millionaires’ tax that seems dead on arrival with state lawmakers in Albany. A commission created by Governor Cuomo is about to release a plan for congestion pricing that would generate at least $1 billion a year for the subways. But the plan wouldn’t be fully implemented until two years from now and also needs the approval of the legislature.
By not immediately finding some money for the problem, both the mayor and the governor are telling commuters that they feel our pain – sort of. If Albany lawmakers kill congestion pricing as they did ten years ago, does that mean we just have to grumble and bear it when our D Train idles in a tunnel?
Both the mayor and the governor need to make a major commitment to fixing the subways now – even if their funding mechanisms fail to emerge in the coming months.
In the meantime, my new subway buddy might have to be Andy Byford, the new head of the Transit Authority who pronounced that his first ride from the No. 4 train this week was “flawless.”
Perhaps his experience was Panglossian optimism or beginners’ luck in our transit casino, but I’d love to hear from Byford after a month of riding our rails.
If he’s a little more jaded, I’ll tell him to hold his breath until 2020 – the year our subway system might be saved.