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Transit Repairs Will Stop Unless the City Pays Half the Bill, Officials Say

By Gwynne Hogan | October 23, 2017 5:23pm

NEW YORK CITY — The plan to repair the city's beleaguered subway system will come to a screeching halt at the end of January if the city doesn't pony up, state officials warned Monday.

Funds for the $836 million "Subway Action Plan," of which the state-run MTA has agreed to pay half, will dry up early next year without a cash infusion from the city, warned Tim Mulligan, acting president of New York City Transit, at a Monday board meeting.

"We'll have to pull back and look at how we prioritize or how we limit or scale down the efforts going forward," Mulligan said. "We’re looking for additional... support so we can keep this program going."

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who nominates the MTA's board members, reiterated that the state wouldn't fully fund the plan on NY1 Monday morning.

"I can do half. I can't fund the entire $800 million," he said. "The city's refused to fund the emergency plan. I think that's a mistake, but you have to do that to make the trains run."

It's the latest in the ping-pong match between the city and state over who should foot the bill for the city's ailing subway system.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said repeatedly that the city has already paid its fair share and that the state should return $456 million it reallocated from the MTA's coffers.

De Blasio has also proposed a "Millionaire's tax," which would have to be passed by the state Legislature in Albany, to fund reduced subway fares for low-income New Yorkers and to generate a new revenue source for capital repairs for the subway

The mayor's press office didn't return a request for further comment.

In the two months since the subway action plan was rolled out, the MTA has brought on 750 new workers to focus on overnight repairs on several high-traffic lines.

The workers have been hauling out garbage from the tracks, repairing signals, patching broken track and fixing leaks, among other repairs, officials said Monday.

"We’ve seen short bursts of work over the years, but this amount of sustained work has never happened before," said MTA Board Member John Samuelsen, an appointee of the Transport Workers Union, who started work with the MTA as a track worker in 1993. 

"It would be ludicrous to scale back on the successful subway action plan at this point."

Riders, however, have yet to reap the benefits of the MTA's emergency repair plan, with 14.3 percent more major incidents — like smoke conditions, signal failures or power outages that trigger widespread delays on multiple lines — this August compared to last, according to MTA board documents. 

There was an average of 12.8 percent more major incidents each month this year than last year, the data showed.

John Raskin, executive director of the subway advocacy group Riders Alliance, said the governor was "holding millions of transit riders hostage" in his back-and-forth with de Blasio.

"Governor Cuomo's threat to scale back on necessary subway improvements is a transparent attempt to shift blame and accountability for our transit woes onto the Mayor, even though the Governor himself controls the MTA," Raskin said.