Escalator shutdowns at the Second Avenue Subway’s 86th Street Station have forced rush-hour straphangers to slog up the stairs during this week’s heat wave, locals said.
On Tuesday night, four of the seven escalators at the northern entrance to the station were shut off around 6:30 p.m., locals said. On Wednesday night, two of three escalators at the southern entrance at 83rd Street were shut off, leaving just one escalator for those going down, according to Upper East Side resident Justin Shea.
“Most people hoofed it up even though it’s quite a few steps, especially for 90-degree weather,” he said in an email. “Some people asked those exiting to open the emergency exit gates for them so they could go back to the other side of the station which also has an elevator (the south side doesn’t).”
As NYC Subways Melt Down, Only an Upstate Republican Dares Call Out Cuomo. Marc Molinaro, the Republican executive of Dutchess County, did yesterday what few elected officials in New York dare to do: call out Governor Andrew Cuomo for mishandling the MTA.
“I’m sorry… what!? Subways overflow w/ commuters, riders trapped on cars, lives at risk… & the answer? Don’t blame NYS,” Molinaro tweeted. He was responding to the wildly disingenuous assertion from Cuomo’s office that New York City “owns the subway and is solely responsible for funding its capital plan.”
It was, for Cuomo, just another day of misdirection when it comes to the ongoing subway meltdown. The MTA, a state agency, runs and funds the subway system. (Technically, the city leases the subway to the state, but it is not “solely” responsible for capital costs.) Cuomo appoints the MTA’s chair and a plurality of its board members. No funding decisions are made without his explicit consent.
Molinaro tells the Voice he spoke up because “subway platforms are overwhelmed and overburdened, and clearly the state is being disingenuous and not transparent.”
Though Dutchess County is thirty miles north of the city, Molinaro notes that plenty of its residents commute to the city and use its subways. “It’s the state’s problem,” he says. “I have never heard a governor say they are not in charge of the MTA.”
Naysayers will point out Molinaro is mulling a bid for governor and could be trying to score early political points. Maybe so, but nothing he said is wrong. What’s remarkable is how silent New York City’s Democrats have been about the state government’s culpability, even as straphangers suffer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has grown more assertive, but he has been trolled by Cuomo enough to keep his rage in check. He has expressed openness about the new MTA chair, Joe Lhota, and said he will proffer his own plan for the subways if Lhota doesn’t produce something adequate.
Some critics say state money pledged to MTA is going to wrong place. Listen to NY1.
Just days after a Harlem subway train derailment last month where more than 30 people were injured, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the city’s subways.
It was a symbolic declaration, but one that came too late for many straphangers whose daily commutes have become unreliable at best and, in some situations, dangerous as power outages have led to evacuations along the tracks.
Critics say more money should have been used for basic maintenance and repair to the current system.
“The bad outcomes are that tracks, the signal system, the tunnels are in a terrible state, and the money that should have gone to them was focused elsewhere by the intentions and actions by the governor, and by Joe Lhota to an extent,” said former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.
In an interview with NY1 Monday, Cuomo shot back at critics who say MTA funds have been diverted away from the subways.
“They are full of baloney. That’s how I answer it,” Cuomo said. “New York State has put more money in the capital plan for the MTA than ever before. In history. $8 billion.”
But according to Brodsky, that’s part of the problem. He says Cuomo diverted funds to the Second Avenue Subway, the 7 line extension and even fancy new MTA buses replete with phone charging docks and a sharp new blue and yellow paint job representing the state’s official colors.
“What those buses are is emblematic of an attitude toward the system that inevitably caused this breakdown,” Brodsky said.
In a phone interview, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota says Brodsky’s comments about new buses are a “cheap shot,” since they needed to be painted anyway. And he adds that capital money is completely separate from operating expenses.
By Cuomo’s own admission, the problem with the subways were years in the making, which means they are unlikely to be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction overnight. Cuomo’s up for re-election in 2018 which means the transit issue could be exploited by an opponent in the campaign.