Funding included in the recently passed state budget will allow New York City subway cars to be repaired more quickly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday while unveiling an effort aimed at improving service for a transit system notorious for frequent breakdowns.
The more than $800 million included in the $168.3 billion state budget for emergency repairs to the aging subway system will enable the city's transit agency to hire more workers for the 207th Street Car Overhaul Shop and another repair facility in Brooklyn, Cuomo said.
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The shops will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cuomo said they'll fully rehabilitate more than 1,300 cars a year, a nearly 40 percent increase over previous years.
"Now that it's fully funded, we can hire the personnel and we can really get up and going," the Democrat said after touring the 207th Street shop, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's sprawling repair and maintenance facility in northern Manhattan.
The $836 million for emergency repairs, split evenly between the state and city, is included in the budget approved in Albany last week. But billions of dollars more will be needed for the MTA's next five-year capital program, starting in 2020, to modernize the system that handles about 5.7 million passengers every weekday and more than 1.5 billion annually.
"We're about to work on the next capital plan. I think New York City and the City Council and the state Legislature are being shortsighted if they don't invest in MTA's future," Cuomo said at a Wall Street event Thursday.
The MTA is controlled by the state, with the governor appointing the agency's chairman. The current chairman is Joseph Lhota, a former MTA boss who was brought back to the job at Cuomo's urging amid last year's spate of subway derailments, signal failures, long delays and other chaos.
The MTA has become a New York political football punted back and forth between Albany and the city, with Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat, bickering over who's to blame for the MTA's failings, who should pay for the upgrades and how much should be spent.
"Instead of constantly asking New Yorkers for more money, the state and MTA should learn to do their jobs within their budget and finally seek a sustainable revenue source so riders aren't continually victimized by their blame game," said de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips.
Cynthia Nixon, the "Sex and the City" star and lifelong New Yorker challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary, has used the MTA's ongoing problems against the two-term incumbent governor, taking every opportunity to refer to the agency as "Cuomo's MTA."