Mayor, business leaders sound off on economic cost of MTA delays

It's not just regular New Yorkers angered by the chronic subway delays and breakdowns: business leaders, too, have had enough. They say the MTA's problems are hurting their bottom line. NY1's Grace Rauh has the story.

These days it's hard to find a subway-riding New Yorker who hasn't been stuck underground on a delayed or disabled train.

But the problem-plagued transit system is not just a headache for commuters; businesses are feeling the pain as well. It is costing them a fortune.

"In fact it's enormous. We know it's hundreds of millions of dollars," said Kathy Wylde.

Wylde is the president of the Partnership for New York City, which represents some of the city's largest businesses.

"Everyone has to take an extra half-an-hour to worry about getting to work," Wylde said. "Missed client visits, missed opportunities for revenue generation. It's a big deal."

A press aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted this while stuck on a train this week:

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio is asking bosses to give employees extra leeway. "It's so clear that there's a crisis that employers should be understanding," the mayor said Wednesday.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer's office recently surveyed more than 1,200 subway riders across the city and found that in the last three months subway delays caused many problems.

74 percent said delays caused to be late for a work meeting, 13 percent said they lost pay, and 2 percent of people surveyed said their employer fired them.

De Blasio took shots at the MTA on Friday morning over its leadership.

The MTA is a public authority controlled by a board of political appointees, and de Blasio believes there is not enough clarity about who is in charge.

The mayor spoke out about this on his weekly radio appearance on "The Brian Lehrer Show," and said having an elected official more directly in charge would create more accountability.

He also said the transit agency does not invest enough money into the subway system and basic infrastructure.

"I think it's kind of a put up or shut up moment for the MTA," said de Blasio. "If the MTA can address its problems β€” which means the state stepping up β€” then it could speak to the fact that the current structure could make sense.Β  But if it can't, we have to think about what changes need to be made going forward."

In regards to Penn Station repairs, the mayor said the state and MTA have done a better than expected job helping straphangers.

De Blasio said the city is keeping close tabs on the situation.

One thing the mayor has praised, however, is the appointment of Joe Lhota as the new MTA chairman.

But in response to the mayor's remarks on the radio, Lhota slammed de Blasio.

"Lobbing nonsensical complaints from the sidelines isn't leadership, it's lame. Mayor de Blasio needs to be part of the solution, just like Mayor Bloomberg was when the city financed the 7 train extension," Lhota said in a statement.

The MTA chairman ran against de Blasio for mayor in 2013 and lost.

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