MIDTOWN — Governor Andrew Cuomo said the city should put its money where its mouth is in funding the MTA to help fix the beleaguered subway system.
Cuomo made the appeal after tapping Joseph Lhota to again head the MTA amid a crisis of delays and deteriorating service, following a near mutiny by the board over his decision to leave the CEO seat vacant for five months.
But Cuomo said Lhota — who will be serving in the role while maintaining a full time position at NYU Langone — won’t be able to get the job done without proper investment.
“You underfunded the MTA for 40 years. Now you have to make up for it,” Cuomo said during a press conference in Albany. “If you don’t spend the money you’re not going to be able to get new cars, new signals, new tracks, rebuild the subway stations.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed Lhota’s appointment earlier in the day.
“Joe Lhota and I ran against each other but I have a lot of respect for him,” de Blasio said during a radio interview Thursday morning.
But the mayor's office hit back on Cuomo's comments on funding, saying in a statement: "Funding is not the MTA's most pressing problem. With a proposed $33 billion capital plan that is already behind schedule, this conversation is premature. We'd be better off talking about how they're planning to spend the money and ensuring they do it in a timely fashion."
The mayor added that his four appointees to the MTA board would fight to shift more funds to repair the system.
Meanwhile, MTA board members accused the governor of playing politics after pushing legislation to put two additional state seats on the board.
Cuomo added that it took some coaxing to get Lhota to accept the job, which can open someone up to being blamed for all the MTA’s problems.
“Joe Lhota didn’t say yes till 20 minutes before we put his name up,” the governor said.
The authority allotted $2.1 billion to upgrade signals, but an earlier study said the cost to update the system would be closer to $3 billion.