Governor Andrew Cuomo has pledged more state money than ever before to the MTA, but some critics say it's going to the wrong place. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Just days after a Harlem subway train derailment last month where more than 30 people were injured, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the city's subways.
It was a symbolic declaration, but one that came too late for many straphangers whose daily commutes have become unreliable at best and, in some situations, dangerous as power outages have led to evacuations along the tracks.
Critics say more money should have been used for basic maintenance and repair to the current system.
"The bad outcomes are that tracks, the signal system, the tunnels are in a terrible state, and the money that should have gone to them was focused elsewhere by the intentions and actions by the governor, and by Joe Lhota to an extent," said former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.
In an interview with NY1 Monday, Cuomo shot back at critics who say MTA funds have been diverted away from the subways.
"They are full of baloney. That's how I answer it," Cuomo said. "New York State has put more money in the capital plan for the MTA than ever before. In history. $8 billion."
But according to Brodsky, that's part of the problem. He says Cuomo diverted funds to the Second Avenue Subway, the 7 line extension and even fancy new MTA buses replete with phone charging docks and a sharp new blue and yellow paint job representing the state's official colors.
"What those buses are is emblematic of an attitude toward the system that inevitably caused this breakdown," Brodsky said.
In a phone interview, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota says Brodsky's comments about new buses are a "cheap shot," since they needed to be painted anyway. And he adds that capital money is completely separate from operating expenses.
By Cuomo's own admission, the problem with the subways were years in the making, which means they are unlikely to be resolved to anyone's satisfaction overnight. Cuomo's up for re-election in 2018 which means the transit issue could be exploited by an opponent in the campaign.