Quantcast

DNAinfo has closed.
Click here to read a message from our Founder and CEO

Cuomo Should Not Get Summer Vacation Until 'Disaster' MTA Is Fixed: Pol

 State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents western Queens, wants Cuomo and fellow legislators to use their remaining time in Albany to secure a plan to fund and fix the MTA.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents western Queens, wants Cuomo and fellow legislators to use their remaining time in Albany to secure a plan to fund and fix the MTA.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — A Queens lawmaker is petitioning Gov. Andrew Cuomo and  fellow legislators to stay in Albany until they secure a plan to fix the beleaguered MTA — calling the transit system a "total disaster" plagued by chronic delays, train derailments and other problems.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris launched the petition urging Cuomo to use the extended legislative session on Wednesday to address the MTA's ongoing "crisis." His call was underscored by a chaotic train derailment on the A line Tuesday morning that injured more than a dozen people.

RELATED: 17 People Hurt After A Train Derails Near 125th Street, Officials Say

"The MTA is a total disaster. When are we going to realize how bad this crisis is and finally do something about it?" said Gianaris, who introduced his own bill last week to help fund MTA repairs.

"When we return to Albany tomorrow, we should not leave without addressing this emergency once and for all," he said.

Though the New York State Legislature officially wrapped up last week, Cuomo called lawmakers back to Albany for an "extraordinary legislative session" on Wednesday to specifically tackle mayoral control of the city's school system.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to queries about whether any portion of the session would be used to address the MTA.

Public frustration with the Transportation Authority has been high in recent months, as the subway and rail lines have been besieged by frequent delays, stalled trains and generally deteriorating service.

Last week, Cuomo suggested the city will need to pay up to help cover the cost of fixing its aging subway system.

RELATED: City Has to Pay Up If It Wants Better MTA Service, Cuomo Says

But Gianaris has his own plan to address the MTA's problems. He introduced a bill last week that would temporarily charge millionaires a new surcharge tax — money that would go into an emergency fund to cover needed transit upgrades.

The "Better Trains, Better Cities" proposal would create a three-year personal income tax surcharge on residents living within the MTA service region who earn more than $1 million annually. The exact rate for the surcharge hasn't been finalized yet, a spokeswoman for Gianaris said.

The plan would also add an additional fee to the city's motel and hotel room tax of $5 per room per night. Gianaris estimates that the two surcharges would generate more than $2 billion per year during the three-year period.

That money would be used to maintain and repair the MTA's rail and subway lines, and would be overseen by a newly created "emergency manager" nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state legislature, according to the proposal.

"My 'Better Trains, Better Cities' plan provides the focus and resources necessary to reduce the chronic delays and service interruptions plaguing our system and end the nightmare commuting has become for too many New Yorkers," Gianaris said in a statement.

Neither the MTA nor Cuomo's office responded to requests seeking comment on the senator's bill.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chairman of the Transportation Committee, called for a line-by-line audit of the MTA budget.

"The system is in crisis. Emergency measures need to be taken," the councilman's spokesman Russell Murphy said.

Rodriguez endorsed closing down train lines for emergency repairs to ensure rider safety. He said that nearly $55 billion has been allocated to capital improvements over the last decade, some of which has yet to be spent.

"The system is failing. We want to make sure that the money is going to the right places, because that's a lot of money for a system that is not up to snuff," Murphy said.