Government Tug Of War Left New Yorkers Stranded In MTA Tunnels


Wayne Chen, Contributing Writer

With its oldest lines dating back 113 years, the New York City subway has aged — and deteriorated — to the point where having trains on time is no longer a guarantee, but rather a luxury. For years, New Yorkers have directed their complaints to the Mass Transit Authority, more commonly known as the MTA, and to the city government. But few New Yorkers realize that the MTA is controlled not by the city, but rather the state of New York. Yet, it is the city dwellers who have to cope with the inefficient subway system, not the people of Albany or Ithaca. With no foreseeable immediate improvement, New Yorkers cannot help but wonder: who is responsible for this mess?

This dilemma can traced back to three key people: Andrew Cuomo, the incumbent governor of New York; Bill de Blasio, the current mayor of New York City; and Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the MTA. Few public feuds among officials have created such a dilemma for New Yorkers than how these three are shoving responsibilities toward each other. As early as this May, Mayor de Blasio pointed to Cuomo as the person who exerts the most direct control over the MTA. De Blasio reasoned that the MTA is a state-run agency, and with the increasing delays and decrease in reliability, Cuomo should be taking more action, under what de Blasio justified as a “division of labor.”

He’s in charge and he should just own up to it and take this responsibility seriously and put forward a plan,” de Blasio said.

While Cuomo did not deny his role in commanding the MTA, he has intentionally played down his influence on it, claiming that he does have a role on the board. Cuomo was even bold enough to say who knows who should be dealing with the trains. Chairman Joe Lhota’s $800 million alleviation plan does not help either. It is a hefty price tag which neither Cuomo nor de Blasio want to take on and report to their voters and create more burden on New Yorkers’ tax dollars. With an expected easy victory coming his way, de Blasio’s second term might still be burdened by such problems. He should finally start working directly with Cuomo in resolving the subway crisis.

As recently as Aug. 18, a significant power failure in Brooklyn shut down the A, C, E, G and F trains. Yet, all we heard from Cuomo was a proposed investigation against Con Edison, claiming infrastructure flaws on their part contributed to the chaos. How long will it take for him to finally grant the money that the MTA and New York City desperately need to fix the system’s reliability, instead of adding Wi-Fi and USB charging stations? In the meantime, we are stuck with trains that stop more than they run.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Wayne Chen at [email protected].