The election is over, and there's already turnover in the highest rungs of state government. Governor Andrew Cuomo's hand-picked MTA chairman, Joe Lhota, is heading for the door, and Cuomo will need to find a new transit leader.

But that's actually not what advocates for riders are talking about.

"The existential question facing the MTA is not who the chairman is, it's whether they have the billions of dollars they need to modernize the subway system," said John Raskin of Riders Alliance.

Raskin says Cuomo could play a critical role in saving the subway system, if he chooses to.

"The governor will pick a chairman, but at the end of the day, the governor doesn't only run the MTA, the governor is the only one in the state who can bring the parties together to find the billions of dollars we need to fix the MTA," he said.

With Democrats in control of the state Senate for the first time in years beginning in January, it suddenly looks like a real possibility that a funding rescue plan could be approved.

Cuomo says he supports congestion pricing. It would allow the state to charge drivers to enter parts of Manhattan and the money would pay for subway repairs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements.

"It would be a tragedy if this story just devolved into a battle between a millionaire's tax and congestion pricing when nobody knows for sure what it would take to restore the system to a state of good repair," said former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch.

Ravitch knows Albany and the subways well. Not only was he chairman of the MTA, he was later New York's lieutenant governor. He says Cuomo should make bigger changes.

"It's an opportunity to bring in a whole new board of independent people, of independent stature," he said. 

In the meantime, New Yorkers who depend on the subway system to get around town are hoping the trains get fixed as soon as possible.