FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The MTA still aims to open the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway line on Dec. 31, the transit authority's chairman Tom Prendergast said on Wednesday.
Prendergast didn't promise that the new line will definitely open that day, repeating his stance from earlier this week that he is "cautiously optimistic" the MTA can meet that deadline.
And he clarified that they will not open the new line unless all four stations are ready.
"When we open, we want to open all stations and all elements," Prendergast said.
"This has been a learning experience for me as well," he added. "We don't open sections of the system as large as this — this is the largest in 50 years."
Prendergast said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ben emphatic for more than a year that the deadline be met.
"He was very clear in the sense that he didn't want that deadline moving," he said.
Getting to his current "cautiously optimistic" stance involved changing the MTA's long-held methods of doing projects piece-by-piece, Prendergast said.
"Someone would say, 'I'm done,' [and then] 'OK, Steve, it's your turn to come in,'" Prendergast said, explaining that getting to the point where the deadline seemed reachable involved a decision to "not wait until one person's done and say, 'Pass the baton.'"
Instead, they had subcontractors working on different elements of the project simultaneously, Prendergast said.
"Maybe I was a little bit of a doubting Thomas for a while, but then I started to see that that change got made, and that's where we started to change our language in terms of saying 'cautiously optimistic,'" he said.
Prendergast was also asked if Mayor Bill de Blasio will be invited to the opening, in light of both the mayor's comments on Tuesday that he'd "love to be there" and the notorious feud between Cuomo and him.
Though the MTA chair said Cuomo will let Prendergast make the call as to when the subway line is ready to open, he ducked taking responsibility for welcoming the city's mayor to the opening.
"As far as the event and the invitations, you'll have to ask someone else," he said.
A spokeswoman for Cuomo later tweeted that the mayor will "of course" be invited.
Of course the Mayor will be invited https://t.co/tXEEceElNM— Melissa DeRosa (@melissadderosa) December 14, 2016