Category Archives: 2nd Ave Subway

Cuomo leans into harnessing property tax values for subway fixes

NY Curbed

It’s been less than two months since Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel unveiled a congestion pricing plan that would help fund dire upgrades to the state-controlled subway system, but instead of leaning into that proposal, Cuomo has decided to throw his support behind a different means of accruing capital.

Draft legislation obtained by Politico shows that the Cuomo administration is working on a value capture plan that would tax building owners whose properties increase in value as a result of being near transit. Those funds would then be funneled back into infrastructure improvements.

This isn’t the first time the Cuomo administration has brought up value capture; it also appeared in a preliminary plan from the state in January. The draft legislation that is being proposed now has been lightly tweaked, but is “effectively the same thing,” says Dean Fuleihan, New York City’s first deputy mayor.

The practice has been used before by the city—to fund the 7 train extension towards Hudson Yards, for example—but would have a markedly different impact on the city if controlled by the state.

“It is [the] unprecedented taking of the city tax base … without the local government participating in the decision,” Fuleihan told Politico. In a forthcoming report from New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management by Eric Kober entitled “Uses and Abuses of Value Capture for Transit,” Kober writes that the first, similar iteration of the proposal “diverts New York City’s largest and most stable tax source in a manner that could affect the City’s fiscal stability.”

Property tax generates nearly one-third of the revenue supporting the city’s budget, the report notes. If the state were to divert those funds, the city would have to bridge the lost revenue either by making service cuts or taxing more heavily elsewhere.

The current draft of the proposal would allow the MTA to collect property tax revenue from areas that it claims are supported by transit improvements up to a mile away. That figure—a mile might as well be ten in New York—has some critics of the plan bristling.

As it’s etched out now, the plan would create a transportation improvement district in the area surrounding the completed portion of the Second Avenue Subway, as well as its hypothetical (read: unfunded) extension into Harlem and downtown.

“Transportation Improvement Districts should not include completed projects,” Carol Kellermann, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, commented to Politico. Kellermann also suggests that the districts should not extend more than a quarter mile from the site.

“Going forward, the city would of course have a say in the creation of these districts and will end up with more tax revenue than if the MTA hadn’t funded these projects in the first place,” a Cuomo spokesperson said.

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Earmark Supporters Should Run for Local Office

CATO.ORG

If you are interested in national issues such as defense, foreign policy, and trade, and want to hold public office, you should run for Congress. If you are interested in roads, beaches, subways, and policing, you should run for city council or the state legislature.

The push to restore earmarks in Congress is led by politicians who got elected to the wrong democratic body. In a pro-earmark story today, the Washington Post highlights projects that members say justify the narrow spending set-asides:

“There is a 14-mile gap in Interstate 49 outside Fort Smith, Ark., and Rep. Steve Womack, who represents the area, would very much like to secure the estimated $300 million in federal taxpayer money needed to fill it.”
“Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), who is pushing a proposal that would allow Congress to earmark money for … a pair of water projects he said have been neglected in his district: a beach restoration in an area where the Gulf of Mexico is starting to lap at homes, and repairs to the massive Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee.
“The Second Avenue Subway in New York City, which opened last year, received more than $600 million.”
“Dozens of police departments received money to improve their equipment and communications systems.
I have questions for the members supporting federal spending on these projects:

Why doesn’t the Arkansas legislature fund the I-49?
If Florida beach restoration is important but neglected, why don’t landowners and city councils along the coast fund it?
New Yorkers may support their subway project, but why should taxpayers elsewhere pay for it? And when asked to vote on it, how could members from other states judge whether it made any sense?
Since policing is a crucial function of local government, wouldn’t citizens support local taxes to buy needed equipment?
The earmark issue is usually framed as a battle of the purse between federal politicians and federal bureaucrats. But the more important issue is ensuring that activities are funded at the level of government that makes the most sense. I discuss here why state and local funding makes sense for state and local activities. As for Congress, it suffers from structural failures that cause it to spend wastefully much of the time, so the less money flowing through it the better.

Andy Byford, MTA’s head of subways, buses, reports for 1st day on the job

The MTA’s new head of subways and buses promised to shake things up at the beleaguered transit agency as he began his first day on the job Tuesday.

Andy Byford, the MTA’s recently hired transit president, said he would give equal focus to four key pillars of his job — subway, bus, paratransit and employee morale — during a brief interview with reporters that touched on the agency’s ancient subway infrastructure; funding and cost reforms; 24-hour train service and the politics at play as subway delays soar and bus ridership plummets.

“I’ve certainly not come here to hold the fort or to maintain the status quo. My job is to drive up the level of service and thereby customer satisfaction for all New Yorkers,” Byford told reporters awaiting him outside MTA headquarters at the Bowling Green subway station.

The former CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission, who has never owned a car, rode into work just after 7 a.m. on a downtown 4 train from Grand Central. He said he plans to rely on subways and buses to get to work each day. He had prepared for a “packed” first day of meetings with his new colleagues and higher ups, including his boss Veronique Hakim, the MTA’s managing director, and Phil Eng, the agency’s COO.

Byford, a UK native who began his transit career as a station foreman in the London Underground, said his first priority on the subways is to “maximize the capability” of the MTA’s current signal system, which relies on technology dating back nearly a century, and improve maintenance of the MTA’s fleet of trains.

“The short term is getting the existing system to work reliably,” Byford said. “Doors typically are the Achilles’ heel of trains — particularly aging trains. You’ve got to maintain your doors, you’ve got to maintain your signal equipment.”

Upgrading the MTA’s signals will allow the agency to add more trains to lines throughout the day because trains could run tighter together. The MTA in the past has estimated that such an endeavor would cost tens of billions of dollars and take nearly a half-century. Round-the-clock service — in some form — might have to be sacrificed, Byford said.

“You cannot upgrade signals effectively … unless you give crews access to the track and that does mean that we will have to find a way of doing that,” Byford said. “I do appreciate that this is a 24/7 city. New Yorkers rightfully hold the (24-hour) subway dear to their hearts. But equally, they expect me to provide more reliable service. If we’re to do that, there is no gain without some pain.”

While Byford said there will need to be a larger investment in the MTA to turn around service, he also admitted that costs are unusually high. Building out the first leg of the second Avenue subway was the most expensive subway project on Earth at $4.5 billion.

“We should be looking to be as efficient as possible in everything that we do so that we can maximize scarce tax dollars,” Byford said.

The MTA, which is effectively controlled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has experienced a roughly 200 percent increase in subway delays since 2012. While ridership on the rails has begun to plateau and drop, bus ridership has declined much faster, dropping 100 million passenger trips over the past eight years. Meanwhile, Cuomo has tried to pass some responsibility of the subways to the city and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Both the mayor and the governor have agreed that the MTA needs more funding, though each has their own dueling proposals.

Byford said that he hopes he’s “allowed the time and the space to do what I need to do.” Over the past 10 years, Transit presidents have typically stayed on the job for a little over two years, on average.

“At the end of the day the MTA is a state-run authority,” Byford said. “So it’s the governor’s prerogative to have a view. I think it would be perverse if the governor wasn’t interested in transit or in the subway because, at the end of the day, he’s an elected official and I think all elected officials should be concerned about making sure this city’s transit system runs effectively.”

As Byford trekked downtown, trains were still running smoothly in the early hours of the morning rush. He used a word to describe his commute that not many New Yorkers would associate with the subway: “flawless.”

But, just about an hour after he entered MTA headquarters, the MTA reported delays or service changes on B, D, 2, 3, 6 and 7 trains and the morning commute looked more familiar.

Manhattan Gridlock: Plan to Relieve It & Impact On Transit Debt

Bumper-to bumper, horn-honking traffic through Manhattan streets is about as New York as bagels and Broadway. A plan to ease that problem is tapping into another mainstay of city life: high driving tolls.

The idea, called “congestion pricing,” involves using electronic tolling technology to charge fees to vehicles entering the most heavily trafficked parts of town during certain hours.

Some big cities already do it, including Singapore, Stockholm and London, where it can cost more than $15 to drive into the city center during peak periods.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed it for New York a decade ago and got a firm rejection from lawmakers who said drivers headed into Manhattan already get slammed enough by bridge and highway tolls and high parking fees.

But with the city’s subway system deteriorating, and politicians looking for ways to pay for a fix, the concept has gotten new life.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who said last summer that “congestion pricing” is an idea whose time has come, could unveil a plan to implement a system as early as next week. A spokesman for the governor said a committee, called FixNY, is finalizing recommendations.

Alex Matthiessen, director of the MoveNY campaign — the most vocal advocate for congestion pricing — says New York would become the first city in the United States to charge drivers under such a system, but said others like San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles are paying close attention.

“We have a full-blown crisis,” Matthiessen said. “Our subway system is severely underfunded; it is quite unreliable, there are delays and overcrowding and the situation is potentially dangerous. No other idea has the twin benefit of also tackling a very severe traffic problem.”

There are still plenty of roadblocks.

Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he likes the idea of getting cars off the street but isn’t convinced high tolls is the way to do it.

“I think there are serious fairness issues when it comes to congestion pricing,” he said at a recent news conference, citing the financial burden on drivers who can’t afford tolls as easily as the many millionaires who call Manhattan home. De Blasio has said he prefers dealing with the subway’s financial problems by imposing higher income taxes on the rich.

Key details, like how much it might cost, or where, exactly, drivers might get hit with the tolls have yet to be unveiled. Bloomberg’s plan would have charged $8 to drive south of 60th Street, or roughly the southern end of Central Park.

Adam Glassman, a Lynbrook, Long Island-based attorney, spoke in midtown Manhattan before getting into his car to go home.

“It is impossible to get into the city,” said Glassman, who is familiar with Bloomberg’s proposed plan years ago. He commutes into Manhattan twice a week.

He’s in favor of possible tolls. “I’d be willing to suck it up.”

Although no specific congestion pricing plan has been formally announced, many agree that any system would be likely to create surcharges for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. That’s OK with Uber, which is behind a public relations campaign backing congestion pricing.

“Users of Manhattan’s congested roads should bear part of the cost of helping to reduce congestion and improve our public transit system,” said Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang. “Everyone should pay their fair share to keep New York City moving forward.”

Brooklyn state Assemblyman William Colton, a Democrat, said any proposals that would create tolls across bridges into Manhattan that are currently free, or a system that would ping drivers in areas like Times Square south through Greenwich Village and into the Wall Street business district, would be seen as an unfair tax by his constituents.

“This is going to have a negative effect on working people, small business people and seniors who have medical appointments in Manhattan,” Colton said. “This is going to be a big problem. I don’t know the details, but I’m very leery.”

Commuter Joe Murphy said he would be “absolutely opposed to it.”

He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and already pays for the George Washington Bridge, where tolls range from $10.50 to $15 a car, plus a midtown Manhattan parking garage. His half-hour, pre-rush hour commute is the fastest and easiest option for him; using public transportation would triple his commuting time.

“Just to get to work, the cost of parking and tolls and everything is just astronomical,” he said.

Imagine a more responsive and responsible city

Queens Chronical

Last week this page touted the good and the bad in Mayor de Blasio’s first-term record, with the continuing drop in violent crime and the failure to reduce homelessness while opening new shelters all over the city as the top items on each side of the ledger.

This week the Chronicle offers some ideas on reform of city government that we think would make officials more accountable to the people they serve. Some may seem pie in the sky, but hey, throw an idea out there and 98 years later you have the first two miles of the Second Avenue Subway (yes, it was first proposed in 1919). You just never know.

Last week this page touted the good and the bad in Mayor de Blasio’s first-term record, with the continuing drop in violent crime and the failure to reduce homelessness while opening new shelters all over the city as the top items on each side of the ledger.

This week the Chronicle offers some ideas on reform of city government that we think would make officials more accountable to the people they serve. Some may seem pie in the sky, but hey, throw an idea out there and 98 years later you have the first two miles of the Second Avenue Subway (yes, it was first proposed in 1919). You just never know.

Firstly, growth in government must be slowed, if only because the economy cannot keep expanding the way it has been forever. The city expense budget for fiscal year 2014 was $69.9 billion. For fiscal 2018, it’s $85.2 billion. That’s bigger than all but five states, and a 21.8 percent increase over four years. Has your salary gone up more than 5 percent a year the past four years? Didn’t think so. Neither has gross domestic product, not even close. And no one expects it to, other than maybe a few of the new Republican tax law’s biggest cheerleaders, like economist Larry Kudlow.

Our mayor and City Council, always talking about sustainability vis-a-vis the environment, should think more about it when it comes to spending. Some fiscal restraint, as even Albany has, is in order. Imagine a law saying spending may not rise by more than the GDP did in the previous fiscal year outside of emergencies on the scale of 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy — and then only after hearings in each borough.

Speaking of meetings in every borough, how about forcing certain agency commissioners to hold town halls on a regular basis so they’re more accountable and hear from the public directly rather than through appointees or civil servants? The Departments of Transportation, Homeless Services, Parks and Buildings are regular sources of consternation and seem likely candidates. Maybe each commissioner could hold events in each borough twice yearly.

Just one more: How about revising the City Charter? So we might not have to wait those 98 years to fix some things.

New York shows Trump how not to do infrastructure

Washington Examiner by Michael Barone

New York’s exorbitant spending is an example of how government financing, combined with inadequate controls over private contractors and unions, results in enormous waste.

Amid the hubbub about Michael Wolff’s anti-Trump book, whose chief source appears to be former White House aide Steve Bannon, there’s a danger of missing out on the development, or failure to develop, administration policy on important issues like immigration (which my Washington Examiner colleague Byron York has usefully discussed) and infrastructure. President Trump’s background as a real estate developer and his campaign rhetoric about America’s decaying infrastructure have led many to suppose that he will come up with a coherent infrastructure policy, perhaps one even winning Democratic support, for this year. So far he hasn’t.

One thing he and his advisers might want to keep in mind, and something he might already be familiar with, is that at least some infrastructure costs in the U.S. are far higher than anywhere else in the world. The prime example, highlighted by an excellent investigative report by Brian Rosenthal in the New York Times, is the cost of subway construction. (Hat tip: Aaron Renn in Joel Kotkin’s New Geography blog.)

In the rest of the world, including many highly developed countries with high-wage economies, construction costs average $500 million per mile of track. In New York City, they are far higher: $1.5 billion for the No. 7 line extension to Hudson Yards, $2.5 billion for the half-a-century-delayed Second Avenue subway, and $3.5 billion for the East Side Access connecting Long Island Railroad tracks to Grand Central Station. Why so much higher? Read the Times’s impressively researched and reported account.

All of which is relevant to any government infrastructure plan. Democrats are already pre-emptively criticizing possible Trump and Republican plans for public-private partnerships, the form of investment used widely for infrastructure projects in Europe, Asia, and Canada. They would prefer government financing.

But New York’s exorbitant spending is an example of how government financing, combined with inadequate controls over private contractors and unions, results in enormous waste. It shows that public funding and public-private partnerships both need to be structured carefully, to prevent waste and get maximum value for the dollar. The $3 billion extra per track mile New York has spent on the East Side Access could go a long way in other parts of the country.

Democrats may also have a tendency to prioritize fixed-rail transit as a form of infrastructure. But almost every light-rail project around the country has been a big money-loser, and heavy-rail subway and elevated rail lines accommodate less than 5 percent of metro area commuters in only six metro areas—New York (which has 40 percent of the entire nation’s subway ridership and more than all the national increase in transit ridership in the 2005-15 decade), Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco. Pouring money into fixed-rail benefits only a tiny (and relatively affluent) percentage of the nation’s population.

If fixed-rail new subway lines in high-visibility central cities represent one extreme form of infrastructure spending, the opposite extreme is ongoing maintenance—of roads and highways for the most part, but also of fixed-rail. New York’s subway system is in much better shape than it was 30 years ago, but it was allowed to deteriorate over the last year or two, as chronicled last summer by the New York local area coverage in the Times and the Wall Street Journal. Politicians like to cut ribbons on new projects. It would be great if Trump could somehow glamorize the mundane but essential work of maintaining and upgrading existing systems.

SMART train needs to avoid runaway costs

Even public transit advocates can be critical of the way government approaches some projects. The New York Times’ startling article, “How excessive staffing, little competition, generous contracts and archaic rules dramatically inflate capital costs for transit in New York,” demonstrates why New York’s partially completed Second Avenue subway costs six times more than Paris’ similarly situated Line 14 extension.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District faces similar out-of-control costs, frustrating those who want the most bang from scarce bucks.

Everywhere the process is dominated by a consultantocracy conditioned to build the perfect over the adequate but affordable.

The proposed $55 million, 3.1-mile extension of SMART’s commuter rail line from Santa Rosa Airport Station to Windsor is an example. In 2008, when North Bay voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax funding SMART, trains going north from Santa Rosa to Cloverdale were promised.

When the quarter-cent levy proved inadequate, the line’s “first phase” instead terminated at Windsor, the next town north of Santa Rosa.

Windsor is a booming community that needs and wants the promised trains.

SMART estimates it will cost $55 million to put the three-mile line into service. With no significant bridges involved, flat topography, existing Federal Railroad Administration Class 2 freight track in district ownership and Windsor’s already-built new depot, $18.3 million a mile seems high.

I ran the numbers by veteran Santa Rosa railroad civil engineer Mike Strider. With one caveat, Strider estimates the job can be done for about $7 million.

One big difference between Strider’s and SMART’s approach relates to maximum speed. SMART built its line to FRA Class 4 standard, allowing speeds up to 80 mph.

The three-mile Windsor segment is so short, given acceleration and de-acceleration times, rail cars can travel at maximum speed for only a mile. To control costs while expediting construction, Strider suggests upgrading the three miles of existing track to FRA Class 3 standards, allowing 60 mph. That change consumes two minutes of extra travel time and save tens of millions.

As an old railroad-hand friend says, “The problems is the tendency of most government agencies to build expensive high-maintenance solutions when simple solutions are at hand because those complex solutions automatically enrich the vendors and justify the employment of those who write the specifications.”

Engineer Strider’s estimate for making the 3.1-mile airport-to-Windsor segment ready for passenger service is in the range of $6.85 million. That’s including installation of Positive Train Control safety technology.

He cut tens of millions from SMART’s best guess by starting with the track. SMART’s plan is to remove and replace the existing three miles of track.

Don’t do it, he says. The current freight-only track is FRA Class 2. Doing a few relatively minor upgrades costing $800,000 a mile — totaling $2.4 million — will bring the three-mile segment up to FRA Class 3 standard which allows passenger train speeds of up to 59 mph.

The balance of his estimate is for two control points, approach signals at Windsor, existing track switch upgrades, improving four grade crossings and a temporary passenger platform at Windsor.

He discards the idea of building a frills-loaded Windsor station platform until service is extended north to Cloverdale. That won’t happen before 2027.

To be conservative, let’s add $3 million for contingencies and soft engineering. Call it $10 million.

Even if Strider’s estimate is low and we triple it to $20 million, it is still a $35 million savings over SMART’s $55 million projection. That’s not chump change.

At a minimum, SMART’s board and General Manager Farhad Mansourian need to summon value engineers and seek alternatives that get the rail cars to Windsor sooner at a lower cost.

Columnist Dick Spotswood of Mill Valley writes on local issues on Wednesdays and Sundays. Email him at spotswood@comcast.net

Extension of #1 Line ‘Wishful Thinking’

Tribeca Trib

The extension of the NYC Transit #1 subway line from the Rector Street station to Red Hook for $3.5 billion (a tunnel and three new stations) as proposed in 2016 by Senior VP of AECOM Engineering firm Chris Ward and now supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2018 State of the State speech is wishful thinking.

This subway extension would support a proposed Red Hook economic development project. It would be similar in size and scope to Battery City Park in Manhattan. Was this $3.5 billion figure written on the back of a napkin?

Cuomo wants the MTA to conduct and pay for a planning feasibility study. There would still be the need for environmental documents or preliminary design and engineering followed by final design and engineering efforts and identification of billions for construction funding.

All of the above is necessary to validate any basic estimates for construction costs.

Given the narrow streets and dense development, who could find a staging area for mobilization of contractor employees, equipment and materials to support construction? Imagine trying to assemble a tunnel boring machine at Rector Street adjacent to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. What about removal of debris once excavation begins? Hundreds of trucks needed on a daily basis to remove rock and soil would be challenging.

It cost $4.5 billion for Phase 1 Second Avenue subway (36 blocks & 3 stations) & $2.4 billion (18 blocks & 1 station) for #7 Hudson Yards subway extension. Neither required a multi-billion tunnel under the East River. Construction of new subway stations average between $500 million up to $1 billion, depending upon location and complexity of work. All three new subway stations would require compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). This includes expensive elevators and other features.

Is there a political quid pro quo in the form of campaign donations between developers, construction contractors and unions who support this project and Cuomo?

ON MTA: NO, GOV. CUOMO DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO “FIX IT”

Black Star News

Yesterday, I watched as Governor Cuomo reflected on his tenure in office and outlined his plans for New York’s future. The issues highlighted and solutions discussed in his address are of critical importance, and I fervently hope that many of the policies that the Governor proposed are enacted.

However, I believe that Governor Cuomo’s assessment of the state of our state was flawed in several ways. I agree that our justice system is unjust, but would go further. The system is not simply broken; in fact, it is working in the way that it was designed. What is necessary is to continue to completely revolutionize our thinking and our practices in the criminal justice system.

I further agree that fighting on behalf of unions and working people is among our most important tasks as public servants. I was among those on the front lines of the Fight for 15, working for a living wage for New Yorkers both in the streets and in City Hall, leading protests and sponsoring legislation such as the Living Wage 3.0 package.
In fact, on many issues, it would seem as though the Governor has finally started to take notice of the work that local activists, organizations, and elected officials like myself have been doing on these progressive causes for years.

He spoke about the affordable housing and homelessness crisis we face across the state while threatening to freeze funds for localities that he feels are not doing enough to combat the crisis, ignoring all of the work that we have done in New York City and threatening, in effect, to make that work for more difficult. The Governor, with his falsely branded “Affordable New York” housing program, has stunted the progress we could have made.

As Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, I worked tirelessly with my committee to address our housing crisis, to achieve real, deeper affordability and to keep New Yorkers in their homes. The Governor’s actions at times have stood in the way of our efforts, and we have fought back. I was arrested alongside my colleagues in government and activist allies for protesting when he failed to deliver on rent regulation, and I will continue to stand up to the Governor on these issues when necessary.

The Governor rightly acknowledged the significant drop in crime across the state, but failed to acknowledge the immense role that initiatives here in New York City such as the Community Safety Act, the Criminal Justice Reform Act, and the Crisis Management System for combating gun violence have had in effecting that change.

Additionally, the Governor seems to want us to forget that New York was the 49th state to “Raise the Age” of criminal responsibility. I find it difficult to call that progressive.

He made mention of increasing youth employment, but failed to highlight the Summer Youth Employment program here in New York City which I worked with my colleagues to expand to historic levels, currently providing 70,000 jobs. The state would be well served following the model we have created.

Perhaps the most surprising claim that the Governor made in his address was that, in regards to the MTA, “We know how to fix the system.” With our public transportation system in crisis for so long, and New Yorkers suffering as a result, we should ask the Governor: If he knows how to fix the system, why has he continued to allow it to fall into disrepair? The Governor cannot stand for photo-ops at the Second Avenue Subway and then abandon the city where the real work is needed.

After hearing all of the Governor’s proposals, I am sure that I am not alone in questioning both the Governor’s conviction on some of these progressive goals and his intent to carry them out, regardless of political consideration. In progressive politics, there are those who work from deeply held beliefs, and those who take up the progressive mantle when it is politically popular. True progress comes from those who are driven by cove values and willingness to fight. I am pleased that Governor Cuomo is coming around to many of the causes for which I and others have spent years fighting, but I question his resolve for the fight. The Governor said that a progressive government requires the confidence of its citizenry and the trustworthiness and strong management of its officials, and I believe that he has overestimated his own standing in each of these areas. Hearing his discussion about “leading the resistance” fell flat to any true activist resistor.

In the time of Trump, the state of New York must be nothing less than a progressive beacon, an embodiment of the ideals that the progressive movement has championed on local and national platforms.

Governor Cuomo has presented an agenda that would represent significant positive change for New Yorkers, including around tax reform and infrastructure, and it is my sincere hope that he has the conviction and strength to act on it in full, as we in local government fight for forward progress in our communities every day.

A New Year’s challenge for New York’s governor

NY Post Com

For many folks, New Year’s marks a beginning. For Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it poses a test: If he hopes to run for president in 2020 (he does), he needs to bolster his record in New York starting this year and handily win re-election in November.

A recent NY1-Baruch College poll suggests his re-election chances are good: 50 percent of New Yorkers give Cuomo a thumbs-up on job performance, with only 25 percent disapproving. Likewise, 49 percent say he deserves to be re-elected, while just 28 percent say no. The $26 million pile of campaign cash he’s sitting on will also help — though Republicans are lining up to run against him.

Yet Cuomo’s job-approval number is down from 58 percent in the poll’s October survey — and could head anywhere over the next 10 months. As for his dreams of a presidential run, New Yorkers oppose it by 45 percent to 36 percent, the poll showed.

Cuomo’s biggest national problem? His record. What can he run on?

Sure, some progressives may give him points for pushing through gay marriage, a gun control bill, the $15 minimum wage, free college tuition and a rash of environmental moves. But none of that will sell outside blue states.

At the same time, he’s not radical enough to win over Bernie Bros and Elizabeth Warren Democrats. When he ran for re-election in 2014, Zephyr Teachout — a complete unknown — outflanked him on the left and drew 34 percent in the primary.

More important, rivals in any presidential race will ask: How did New York fare under Cuomo’s leadership? And that’s where his troubles begin.

Cuomo can point to some big infrastructure projects, like a new Tappan Zee Bridge and the Second Avenue subway. But New Yorkers will be paying for them for decades through taxes, tolls and fees.

Critics will also argue these projects came at the expense of more desperately needed work, such as repairs and upgrades to existing mass-transit infrastructure — subways, buses, commuter rail lines.

Cuomo will forever be known as the governor who allowed what he himself called a commuter Summer of Hell in 2017. Even as 2018 kicks off and the weather dips into single digits, that “summer” is dragging on, with the plan for needed subway fixes still short hundreds of millions of dollars.

If Cuomo can’t make the trains run on time here, how can he run America?

Meanwhile, in the schools, particularly those in the city, the majority of kids graduate unprepared for college or jobs, even though per-student spending is among the highest in the nation.

And though Cuomo has lent support to the one kind of public school that works — charters — it hasn’t been enough to make a big difference overall.

New York’s pathetic statewide economy will be another sore point. In May, the Commerce Department ranked it 13th from the bottom in growth among states in 2016. For the second quarter of 2017, state GDP clocked in at just 1.2 percent, less than half the nation’s 3.1 percent rate.

Indeed, in every year since Cuomo took office, New York’s economy has lagged the nation. Despite a vibrant Gotham. Despite the billions Cuomo has poured into areas like Buffalo and on favored companies.

And the toll has been absolutely horrific upstate — where, Federal Reserve analysts note, job creation was “sluggish” since 2010 before coming to a near-total halt in early 2016.

Still, Cuomo’s “economic development” programs have produced one thing: corruption scandals.

This month, his former top aide, Joe Percoco — whom he describes as a brother — goes on trial for taking bribes from companies doing business with the state.

Later in the year, other associates will face trial on corruption charges linked to his economic development program. And on top of all that, the FBI is now probing his staffing practices.

Then there’s the budget: Cuomo is staring at a $4 billion hole — even as election pressures will make it hard to rein in spending and cut back on state aid for things like schools, hospitals and transit.

Meanwhile, New York’s taxes remain sky-high, and Cuomo will be taking a huge political risk if he calls for hikes — especially if he wants to take on President Trump, who just presided over a massive national tax cut.

Cuomo, of course, hasn’t announced any plans for a 2020 White House run, but he’s lately been boosting his national profile through increased media appearances and by attacking Trump loudly and often (if not always by name). And the agenda he’ll unveil Wednesday in his State of the State Address, including a rewrite of the state tax code, will surely be as much about his national prospects as his re-election.

Yet to be a viable contender in 2020, he’ll need to show results: A strong state economy. Marked improvement in the schools. A bearable tax and business climate. Trains that run.

It’s a tall order. Happy New Year, Gov.