A year ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo was front and center as the Second Avenue Subway was about to hit the tracks, even holding a New Year’s Eve party at a new station on the Upper East Side to celebrate a mass-transit milestone.
This year, it would be more appropriate to hold that holiday party in a train that’s stuck between stations. Cuomo has gone from John Henry to Mr. It’s Not My Job as our subway story has gone decidedly south in 2017, a year that was punctuated by several major subway breakdowns and seemingly thousands of smaller ones.
Just as the collapse of public safety in New York City spanned several mayoral administrations, the financial neglect of the subway system has stretched out from the early days of George Pataki’s administration (when I covered mass transit for the New York Post) through Cuomo’s second term. While City Halls from Rudy Giuliani’s to Mike Bloomberg’s to Bill de Blasio’s all should have given more funding to the MTA, the buck really stops at the top of the state with the man who lives in the governor’s mansion.
Cuomo is now facing the music that he wasn’t listening to for much of his first seven years in office. A man who loves to respond to a crisis, Cuomo didn’t see that the subways, while running, were also sort of not running on a regular basis. A plane crash is a lot more dramatic than just another delayed A Train.
To his credit, the governor now seems to get that the nation’s largest mass-transit system is teetering on the edge of a real disaster. But to his discredit, he’s pointing the finger at anyone – Mayor de Blasio, State Senate Democrats – but himself.
Being governor apparently means never having to say you’re sorry but I’ll take a non-apology if we can forget about the blame game and just get to work. We’ve all got a train to catch.