New York City

Mayor de Blasio, MTA Chairman Lhota in War of Words Over Subway Repairs

De Blasio defeated Lhota for the mayor's office in 2013

What to Know

  • Mayor de Blasio and MTA Chairman Lhota verbally sparred on Sunday over subway funding
  • Earlier in the week, Lhota said New York City needed to contribute more to the subway's operations
  • De Blasio countered that the subway is the state's responsibility to repair and maintain

Mayor Bill de Blasio was full of praise when his one-time opponent Joe Lhota became MTA chairman last month.

Things change.

De Blasio and Lhota got into a war of words Sunday over the condition of the subway system and who was responsible for fixing it, two days after the second derailment in a month and three days after Lhota publicly called on the city to contribute more to the subway's operations. 

It started with a morning ride through Brooklyn by De Blasio, during which he insisted it was solely the state's responsibilities to get the trains fixed and running on time.

At the height of the morning rush, a trash fire that spread to the tracks at 145th Street crippled subway service. Lori Bordonaro reports.

"You've heard a lot of fiction the last few days, so I'm going to give you some facts. The State – the State and the MTA are responsible for the operations of New York City's subways. It's been that way for decades," he said, according to a transcript of remarks released by his office.

"No one questions, for example, whether I have responsibility for making sure the city is safe and for how the NYPD is run or how our schools are run. But when it comes to the MTA, in the last weeks, we've heard all sorts of different explanations. There's only one explanation – the State of New York is responsible for the MTA, period – for the expense budget, for the capital budget, for the whole thing."

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The mayor told reporters that he still believed Lhota was a good choice to run the MTA, but that Lhota's position on the city's contributions "makes no sense."

Later Sunday, the Lhota responded -- forcefully.

"What we need is leadership, not photo ops. The Mayor's comments today were completely disingenuous knowing that the MTA is set to present its 30-day overhaul plan this week. We know we have a problem and our job now is to fix it. It would best for the people of New York City if everyone stepped up and worked together in those efforts," he said in a statement. 

And in a second statement later in the evening, he added "This isn't politics, it's a simple question of math and law."

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