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Posts from the Andrew Cuomo Category

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If Crowded Old Airports Are “Un-New York,” What Are Crowded Old Trains?

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The governor leaps into action.

Andrew Cuomo’s big infrastructure announcement with VP Joe Biden today was, if nothing else, a tidy encapsulation of how little the governor cares about the big problems facing New York’s transportation systems.

For days the governor’s office had been hyping his appearance with Biden. Was Cuomo finally about to tell New Yorkers how he’s going to modernize the trains and buses that millions of people count on every day? Nope. It was all about a $4 billion plan to modernize LaGuardia Airport, including the AirTrain connection to Willets Point that’s projected to cost a billion dollars without saving most people any time.

Cuomo’s big pitch: LGA, with its ancient infrastructure, uncomfortable crowding, and chronic delays, is “un-New York.”

Okay, fair enough. So what does that make the subways, with their eighty-year-old signals, overflowing platforms, and chronic delays?

Just a few days ago, Cuomo wouldn’t even entertain the thought of enacting the Move NY plan to cut traffic and fund transit in one stroke. The logical conclusion from today’s announcement is that, in Cuomo’s eyes, Move NY doesn’t address a glaring lack of New York-ness.

New York’s failure to impress tourists who fly Delta is a problem Cuomo wants to personally address. New York’s crushing traffic congestion, unpredictable subways, miserably crowded platforms, and slow buses are just part of the city’s charm.

Classic New York! Photo: Move NY

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Cuomo to NYC: Eat My Dust, Plebes

Governor Andrew Cuomo says it’s up to New York City to fund his MTA — and indicated the city will have to do it without the funding mechanism that makes the most sense: the Move NY toll reform plan.

Even after coming up with an additional billion dollars or so, the MTA is still looking at a gap of close to $14 billion in the five-year capital program. If nothing is done to close the gap, New Yorkers can expect to pay higher fares as subways get more crowded and service interruptions become more frequent.

The MTA is a state agency controlled by Governor Cuomo. But Cuomo and state lawmakers failed to address MTA funding during this year’s legislative session. On Wednesday Cuomo said the city is on its own.

“The way you fill a gap is by providing resources to fill the gap,” Cuomo helpfully explained. “And that’s what the MTA has been asking the city. Can they help close the gap?”

On Tuesday, the de Blasio administration signaled that it is at least interested in Move NY, which would raise billions for transit while making bridge tolls more rational and reducing traffic in the Manhattan core.

But City Hall can’t make that happen on its own. Cuomo is the one official in New York who could put toll reform front and center. Nevertheless, on the issue of maintaining the transit system that keeps New York City alive, the governor characterized himself as a spectator.

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Albany Alert: Urge Governor Cuomo to Amend or Kill Hit-and-Run Bill

District attorneys are calling on Albany’s three men in a room to amend or kill a bill that would affect future cases against drivers who leave the scene of a serious crash.

Prosecutors and advocates have for years asked lawmakers to address a loophole in state law that gives hit-and-run drivers an incentive to leave the scene. Since the penalty for DWI is more severe, drivers who flee the scene and sober up can essentially game the system — assuming police track them down at all. In New York City, most hit-and-run crashes go unsolved.

This session, the Assembly and State Senate passed a bill (A5266/S4747) to create the offense of aggravated leaving the scene, a class C felony, but it places a bevy of conditions on when the charge may be applied.

As passed, the charge may be applied only when a driver leaves the scene of a crash resulting in the death or serious injury of more than one person. It must be determined that the crash was caused by reckless driving, and the driver must be driving without a valid license due to a prior DWI or leaving the scene conviction, or have a prior conviction for leaving the scene or DWI in the last 10 years. 

The bill’s sponsors are Assembly Member Fred Thiele of Bridgehampton and Senator Rich Funke of Fairport.

Madeline Singas, acting district attorney in Nassau County, is opposed to the bill. Maureen McCormick, Nassau vehicular crimes chief, says her office and other prosecutors are in touch with Thiele and Funke about amending it and are asking Governor Cuomo to either not sign the current bill or veto it outright.

“The chapter amendment we are seeking — and the bill sponsors support — would simply elevate the current felony levels for leaving the scene,” McCormick told Streetsblog via email. “The E felony [New York’s least severe felony category] for leaving where there is serious injury would be elevated to a D and the D felony for fatalities would be elevated to a C.”

The bill could be sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature at any time. Transportation Alternatives is urging people to contact Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and the governor’s office to ask them to amend or veto the bill.

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Governor Cuomo Won’t Ride the Subway, But Cardboard Cut-Out Cuomo Will

The advocates at the Riders Alliance have been campaigning for many months to get Governor Andrew Cuomo to ride the NYC subways. The governor’s office has refused to answer any of their inquiries. So on Thursday, they did the next best thing: They brought along a cardboard cut-out of his likeness to see how straphangers would react.

Subway delays are on the rise, but so far, Cuomo has failed to fund the MTA’s $32 billion five-year capital plan to fix tracks, modernize signals, expand capacity, and upgrade the equipment that moves New York City. It wasn’t hard to find straphangers who want better service to give fake Cuomo a piece of their minds.

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Next Stop for Bill to Expand Bus Lane Cameras: Andrew Cuomo’s Desk

Last night, the State Senate followed the Assembly’s lead and passed a bill to continue New York City’s bus lane camera enforcement program and expand it to an additional 10 bus routes. The bill now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

34th Street before bus lane cams. Video still: Streetfilms/Robin Urban Smith

The Senate voted 48 in favor and 11 opposed. The day before, the bill squeaked through the Assembly, 79-60, with former speaker Sheldon Silver joining Staten Island legislators in calling bus lane cameras “a trap for motorists.”

The existing program was enacted by Albany in 2010 and limited the cameras to six Select Bus Service routes. Without an extension it will expire September 20. The new bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Martin Golden, not only extends the program five years but also allows the city to choose 10 additional bus routes for camera enforcement.

Camera-enforced bus lanes have boosted local bus speeds on 125th Street by up to 20 percent, according to DOT.

Some of New York’s most important bus lanes predate Select Bus Service and aren’t allowed to have camera enforcement under the current law. The Fifth Avenue bus lane, for instance, was implemented in the 1980s. It carries 90 buses per hour during the morning rush and moves 78,000 people daily, according to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The number of Select Bus Service routes has also grown beyond the limits of the current program. SBS on Webster Avenue in the Bronx operates without camera enforcement, and planned SBS routes on Utica Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, and along the Q44 route in Flushing and Jamaica will only be eligible for bus lane cameras if Cuomo signs the new bill.

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Andrew Cuomo Is Failing at One of His Most Basic Tasks

Andrew Cuomo in his natural habitat.

In 1981, then-MTA Chair Richard Ravitch wrote to Governor Hugh Carey, pleading for action “to meet the increasingly desperate situation of public transit in New York.” Carey responded by moving a suite of measures through Albany that led to the MTA’s first five-year capital program. Investments made through the capital program brought the transit system back from the brink, leading to vast improvements in reliability and convenience, and the city flourished.

The problems the transit system faces today are urgent in a different way. Having absorbed nearly all the growth in travel as New York City added a million residents in about 20 years, it is bursting at the seams. Weekday subway delays related to overcrowding rose 65 percent this April compared to last April, and weekend delays are up 141 percent, the Daily News reports.

Reliable transit service matters to New Yorkers of every economic class. Without it, New York cannot grow. Other than the occasional vanity rail project and withering remark about the agency’s “bloated” capital program, Cuomo doesn’t seem to care.

Now should be the time when the governor steps in with a plan to make transit service more frequent and predictable. The MTA capital program has to be renewed, and it’s the end of the session in Albany. If not now, when?

But on Cuomo’s agenda, ensuring that New Yorkers have access to a transit system with well-maintained track, modern signals, and reliable service ranks somewhere below catching two violent felons and upstaging Bill de Blasio on housing policy.

Since Carey and Ravitch ushered in the first MTA capital program, we have 34 years of proof on the ground that the health of the transit system underpins the health of New York City. And it’s deteriorating on Cuomo’s watch.

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Cuomo: I’ll Wrap Move NY After I Personally Collar the Killers

Citing the pressures of overseeing the manhunt for the two escaped Dannemora Prison convicts, Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced a suspension of negotiations to write and enact legislation implementing the Move NY toll reform plan.

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“I’ll pay attention to the transit system that millions of people depend on as soon as I frog-march these two bad guys.”

“We were tantalizingly close to finalizing the bill,” the governor said from his North Country command post, “but they say the devil is in the details, and we’ve got to get this right.” Cuomo said he has instructed Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to be on call to convene a special session to take up the toll legislation once the regular session adjourns next week.

“Contrary to what you may have read in the papers, I have no higher priority than to assure full funding for the MTA capital plan,” said the governor via satellite from an undisclosed location believed to be in upstate Clinton County. “The Move NY plan looks like the ticket to get us over the goal line while untangling traffic and curing toll inequities dating back a half-century,” he added, pledging to “get this done” before the July 4 holiday.

“But first,” he said, “I have to personally put these two criminals back behind bars.”

Cuomo brushed aside a suggestion that all his manhunt-related appearances would have no actual effect on the capture of the two escapees, while shifting his attention immediately to the MTA could profoundly improve the lives of millions of transit riders and strengthen the economic prospects of the entire state. “Can I fix downstate travel while keeping upstate safe?” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “Just watch.”

“With Move NY and a fully funded capital plan, we’ll transform upstate’s economy from prisons to pricing,” he predicted, signaling that the digital tolling system as well as new buses and train cars would be manufactured in the North Country.

“We’re gonna E-ZPass the killers straight into solitary,” said Cuomo, “and then bust the gap in the capital plan.”

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Lawmakers Beg Cuomo to Show Some Leadership on MTA Capital Plan Gap

As the end approaches for the Albany legislative session, things are looking bleak for New York City transit riders. With no action from Governor Cuomo to close the $14 billion gap in the MTA capital program, the burden will end up falling on straphangers in the form of greater debt and higher fares.

The man in charge of the MTA has very little to say about its funding gap. Photo: Marc A. Hermann for MTA on Flickr

The man in charge of the MTA has shown no leadership on closing the gap in the MTA capital plan. Photo: Marc A. Hermann for MTA/Flickr

A group of 25 Assembly members and 10 state senators, led by Assembly Member James Brennan, sent a plea for help to Cuomo and legislative leaders yesterday [PDF]:

Our transit agencies have experienced a decrease in federal, state, and local monies for far too long. If new sources of funding are not identified soon, agencies will be forced to raise fares and tolls or reduce service to pay for much-needed infrastructure needs — taking more money from the pockets of millions of daily riders, many of whom have no other transportation options. Viable funding options exist to support these initiatives, and the time is now to take action.

“The time is running out in this legislative session to reach consensus on how to make this happen,” Brennan said in a press release. “I hope that our Governor will help us find a solution.”

The solution staring Cuomo in the face is the congestion-busting Move NY toll reform plan. This time around, advocates recruited new allies to support an overhaul of NYC’s dysfunctional toll system, but the governor never showed any interest.

Without leadership from Cuomo, the person ultimately in charge of the MTA, there’s not much incentive for anyone else to make a move.

The likely scenario: super-sized fare hikes in a few years. When that happens, just remember that when the opportunity was there to do some good for transit riders, Cuomo did nothing.

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Whose Job Is It to Fix the MTA? 3 Reasons to Point Your Finger at Cuomo

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Governor Cuomo on a rare subway ride with his appointee, MTA Chair Tom Prendergast. Photo: Marc A. Hermann MTA/New York City Transit via Flickr CC license 2.0

Comptroller Scott Stringer came out with a big report yesterday about how New York City contributes more to the MTA than you might think. Add up all the fares, tolls, dedicated taxes, and public funding that originate from the city, and it comes out to $10.1 billion per year.

With Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio tussling over who should pony up and cover the massive hole in the MTA’s five-year capital plan, the Stringer report was taken to be a news cycle win for team de Blasio. The thing is, there are much better reasons to point your finger at Cuomo instead of the mayor.

The share of MTA revenue coming from NYC is actually about what you would expect, since, as Stringer’s report also points out, the MTA spends $9.86 billion annually on services and infrastructure benefitting New York City residents. There’s still about $270 million that flows from city sources to the commuter railroads serving the suburbs — and that’s an imbalance that should get fixed — but in general, the MTA budget isn’t broken because New York City pays more than its fair share.

It’s broken because there’s a huge hole in the capital program and the one person who can really do something about it — Cuomo — is sitting on his hands. (If the core problem was too much revenue coming from NYC, then the Move NY toll reform plan wouldn’t be much of a fix, since most of the revenue would come from New York City drivers. But Move NY is, of course, a stupendous improvement over the status quo, because it attacks the capital plan deficit while unclogging the city’s crippling traffic jams and speeding up buses.)

So yeah, lay the blame for MTA rot on Cuomo. But blame him for the right reasons…

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We’re Screwed

Promoted from my Twitter feed.

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