Mayor tells transit officials not to expect any more cash
As the chairman of the MTA releases his master plan to fix the city's subways, Mayor Bill de Blasio is telling transit officials not to expect any more cash. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio descended the stairs at the City Hall subway station with a mixed message, barely audible as trains rolled past.
First, the good news.
"I was encouraged by Chairman Joe Lhota’s announcement today," de Blasio said. "We have to be clear that it's up to the MTA to right the ship and it's up to the MTA chairman to show us a plan that will really work, and today was a step in the right direction."
De Blasio says he was encouraged by Lhota's plan to fix the city's subways.
The city will lend a hand. Firefighters, emergency service workers or police are at their aid.
The city will help clean up the subway. It will try to get the homeless out and into shelters.
"If they need more help with police services, he mentioned, you know, fighting litter and more enforcement, we will do that. That will cost money, but we are happy to do that," de Blasio said. "If they need more help with FDNY and EMS to relieve the pressure when there are problems and breakdowns, I think that's natural that we should play a more intensive role in addressing it. That will cost money, but it is absolutely the right thing to do. "
But it ended there for the mayor. De Blasio says the city will not contribute any more money to the struggling subway system. Lhota is requesting a 50/50 split.
The mayor says the city has already allocated $2.5 billion in capital funds. The other cash Lhota says the system needs, according to de Blasio, was siphoned away to the state's general fund.
"I'm not ready to do that because the state has the money right now that has taken from the MTA. Literally. It is a stunning coincidence. Go look it up," de Blasio said. "The request is $456 million in operating funds, and the exact amount that the state has diverted from the MTA budget since 2011 and still holds is $456 million. That's the way to solve that problem."
De Blasio's tone was more measured than in days past. Before his press conference started, critical signs were to serve as the backdrop. But before the mayor appeared, the signs were whisked away.
Perhaps it's an olive branch. The mayor said this is not the end of the conversation, and he is open to discussing how the city can contribute to the subways' long-term needs.
In the short-term, it looks like the mayor will alter his regular travel plans and keep riding underground. Immediately after the press conference, the mayor boarded the subway heading to Brooklyn.