Some riders on the 7 train may have spotted a familiar face during Thursday's evening rush: a cardboard cutout of Governor Andrew Cuomo. It was all part of a stunt by transit advocates who want the state's political leader to come up with ways to improve the city's strained subway system. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
No, that's not Governor Andrew Cuomo on the platform at the Times Square subway station. But after months of unsuccessfully trying to goad the governor into taking a rush-hour ride, the Riders Alliance settled for commuting alongside Cuomo's cardboard likeness.
"He hasn't seen for himself the horrible conditions, the terrible stations, the broken-down trains, just all the uncomfortable things that we deal with all the time that lead to real-life consequences. And we thought, 'You know what? Maybe if he took the subway with us, he would prioritize the needs of subway riders,'" said Rebecca Bailin of Riders Alliance.
Members of the advocacy group stuffed the Cuomo cardboard cutout onto several 7 trains for rides on a line that in recent months has given riders commuting headaches with delays and stalled trains.
"We really want to show the governor what it's like every single day for New Yorkers who take the train," said Jess Nizar of Riders Alliance.
In typical straphanger fashion, most riders paid no mind to the well-dressed Cuomo cutout. But several filled out forms listing their biggest gripes with the transit system and the 7 train.
"In the mornings, there's quite a lot of delays," said one commuter. "Sometimes, the express line doesn't run."
The Riders Alliance staged the stunt as the MTA struggles to meet the demands of record ridership.
Cuomo, who effectively controls the agency, has been frequently criticized by transit advocates, who say he's been idle on matters of mass transit as service has slipped. And last month, state legislators wrapped up their session without acting on how to fill a $14 billion funding gap in the MTA's $32 billion, five-year plan to maintain and improve the system.
A Cuomo spokeswoman declined to comment on the latest poke at the governor, who in the past has said the MTA's funding issues will eventually be worked on.
The Riders Alliance said they'll keep the pressure on Cuomo until the MTA's Capital Program is fully funded. As for when that will be, there's no timetable for that from the governor.