MTA Says Subway Service Improving as City, State Continue to Tangle Over Funding for System Overhaul - NBC New York
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MTA Says Subway Service Improving as City, State Continue to Tangle Over Funding for System Overhaul

As September comes to end, the dispute over who will pay for the fixes continues to boil between the city and the state

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The MTA says subway service is getting better. But who is paying for much needed repairs? Andrew Siff reports.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017)

    What to Know

    • MTA chairman Joe Lhota unveiled the NYC Subway Action Plan in July after Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the transit agency

    • Lhota said Wednesday that subway delays are down and service is improving, even as the city and state continue to quarrel over who will pay

    • Some riders said they haven't noticed the improvements, and there were a string of delays on subway lines during the evening rush Wednesday

    At a board meeting Wednesday, the head of the MTA said delays are down across the subway system. But within hours of the meeting, delays were reported on the 1, 7 and R lines because of signal problems, switch problems and a sick customer.

    The meeting came as a dispute over who will pay for the fixes continues to simmer. It’s no wonder many riders question the assertion of transit officials that service is improving.

    “I’ve never seen such rapid deterioration,” said Upper West Side resident Roberta Schoenfield. “It’s really — it’s destroying New York City.”

    “When I came today, the 4 and 5 train was delayed,” said Skip Roseboro as he took part in a protest of the aging system. “We definitely have some problems.”

    After the board meeting, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota told reporters “delays were down in August.”

    “They’re down lower than they were in June,” he said. “Slightly above what they were in July.”

    NBC 4 New York reached out to the MTA press office for more information on the number of delays, but didn't hear back. 

    In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order declaring the MTA in a state of emergency following a string of derailments and breakdowns. Then in July, Lhota unveiled the NYC Subway Action Plan. He said the MTA would need $800 million in additional funding to make fixes; among the repairs are thousands of friction pads to keep trains running smoothly.

    At Wednesday’s meeting, NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s appointed board members, continued to question the MTA’s request that the city and state each foot half of the bill for repairs.

    “‘The city pays half or we don’t do any of it,’” Trottenberg said of the request. “Might there be some more creative solutions there?”

    Larry Schwartz, a board member appointed by Cuomo, contended: “I hope the mayor will come up with the money to work in partnership with the governor, because this is a city-state issue.”

    Meanwhile, protesters made their voices heard at the meeting, at one point even interrupting it with the chant: “Make the rich pay! Cuomo tax the MTA!”

    While outside the MTA headquarters, another group said they won’t quiet down until service gets better. “Hey, hey MTA! How many riders did you strand today?” they chanted.

    There have been a number of significant subway incidents in the past few weeks alone, most notably on Sept. 14, when debris on subway tracks in Manhattan caused a rail condition that crippled service on nearly a half-dozen lines during the morning rush.

    As for what’s next with the NYC Subway Action Plan — Lhota said he plans to lay out a specific blueprint of what things will cost and when things will get better at the MTA board meeting in October.

    On a 5 train Wednesday evening, a conductor made an announcement to sweaty passengers over an unintelligible intercom: “All trains running with delays.” An “ongoing investigation” at 59th Street was reportedly to blame. 

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