|Cuomo - Blow up the MTA (1499322)|
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Cuomo - Blow up the MTA
Posted by Allan on Tue Jan 8 13:51:12 2019https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-metro-cuomo-mta-blow-it-up-20190107-story.html
"Cuomo wants to 'blow up' the MTA after L train debacle
By KENNETH LOVETT and DAN RIVOLI
| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |JAN 08, 2019
Frustrated by what he sees as an entrenched bureaucracy that lacks imagination to find new ways to do things, Gov. Cuomo said Monday it’s time to rebuild the MTA from ground up.
“Blow up the MTA. Blow it up,” Cuomo said during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board.
Cuomo picks the MTA’s chariman and its CEO. But to Daily News editors, he griped that the agency — created in 1968 to consolidate transportation services in New York and its suburbs — was created in a way that no one can claim accountability.
The governor’s remarks came days after he upended a major MTA capital project — the rebuilding of the L train’s Canarsie tunnel, which runs under the East River.
The MTA planned to shut the tunnel for 15 months starting in April. Cuomo, with a team of engineers including the deans of the Columbia and Cornell engineering schools, came up with a faster plan.
"The L train is a window into a much bigger problem," Cuomo told The News.
He referred to a “passive conspiracy of the transportation industrial complex” where major capital projects are undertaken with the same contractors and vendors, and no competition for designs.
Construction contractors typically pad their bills to the MTA by 25% — an “MTA premium” — because of the difficulty they have dealing with agency bureaucrats. MTA board members are trying to figure out how to lower their construction costs.
“The MTA is so tedious to deal with that it developed a boutique industry of people who just are willing to deal with this thing called the MTA,” Cuomo said.
“And the people who know how to do it normally came from the MTA and then go to the contractor and that’s why they know how to make the connection."
The MTA does sometimes move on Cuomo’s word — he was able to speed up work on the Second Ave. subway in time for its 2016 New Year’s Eve ribbon cutting, and muscle through new designs for station renovations.
But Cuomo said he doesn’t feel he has real control over the MTA.
“The only time I have authority is when no one else wants it,” Cuomo said. “Second Ave. subway — no one else would go near it.”
He called the MTA the last entity that’s runs as a “weird convoluted hybrid designed so no politician has authority so no one gets blamed for (a fare) increase.”
Cuomo last year proposed a bill that would give the governor two extra appointments to the MTA board. He controls six seats, including the chairman. Mayor de Blasio has four votes, Long Island county executives get two votes, and four county executives in the Hudson Valley share a single vote.
Cuomo’s “blow it up” comment to The News is reminiscent of ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 1999 comment that the city Board of Education should be “blown up.”
Since then, control of the city’s schools has been largely handed over to the mayor.
But the MTA remains outside any one person’s accountability — a situation that Cuomo said is akin to the Port Authority, where “at least there are two governors accountable,” Cuomo said.
He plans to continue his effort to reform the agency — Cuomo in a recent speech said one of his priorities in the first 100 days of 2019 is to restructure the MTA and find it more funding.
He said he is not afraid to take responsibility for what happens at the MTA, as long as he’s not “handcuffed.”
“I am unique in governors who are willing to step up and sign on the bottom line,” he said of such projects as the building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge and installation of cashless tolling.
“My people think it’s an act of madness,” Cuomo said of his quest for more power over the agency. “I don’t care. I have no problem stepping up and saying it’s me. More than any other governor. But I’m not going to say ‘it’s me’ handcuffed.”
In a statement, the MTA said Monday that its leadership "looks forward to working with the Governor, legislative leaders, the MTA Board and other stakeholders" on reforming the agency."