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Posts from the Andrew Cuomo Category

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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.

Hootsuite

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Someone Show Governor Cuomo This Animated Move NY Explainer

Not sure why you should support the Move NY toll reform plan? This animation is for you.

Move NY has picked up endorsements from city and state electeds, press outlets including the Times and Daily News, and scores of public interest groups. Yet despite the enormous $15 billion gap in the MTA capital program, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who runs the authority, has remained cool to the idea of reforming the toll system to secure the revenue the MTA needs to avoid burdening straphangers with higher fares and compromised service.

The animation directs viewers to the spiffy I Heart Move NY website, which has detailed info on the plan along with an online petition, where New Yorkers can tell officials to “get New York moving again.”

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Transit Advocates Ask Cuomo to Ride the Subway Like a Real New Yorker

Transit ridership is soaring, delays are way up, and the MTA has a $14 billion hole in its capital plan. MTA leadership is sounding the alarm, but Albany doesn’t seem to notice. With the clock ticking on the year’s legislative session, transit advocates are asking Governor Andrew Cuomo to hop out of his muscle car and ride the subway with them to experience the MTA’s needs first-hand.

If the governor experienced a typical New Yorker's transit commute, he might be more inclined to fund the MTA capital plan, advocates say. Photo: Azi Paybarah/Flickr

If the governor experienced a typical New Yorker’s transit commute, he might be more inclined to fund the MTA capital plan, advocates say. Photo: Azi Paybarah/Flickr

The governor has ridden the subway before, but it’s typically a choreographed affair with the press and public officials. His most recent ride, to reassure the public about terrorism preparedness last September, was only tangentially related to transit.

Advocates say it’s time the governor, who has yet to act on funding for the region’s transit investment plan, see a typical morning rush hour. Without a funding plan from Albany, straphangers will be saddled with massive fare increases to pay for debt-financed system upgrades.

“It defies comprehension that Governor Cuomo hasn’t taken up the issue of funding for our subways and buses,” Riders Alliance deputy director Nick Sifuentes said in a release. “The only reason we can think of is that he doesn’t have to deal with the dreadful rush hour commutes that average New Yorkers face every day.”

“New Yorkers are paying more for less and they hate that,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “Don’t believe us? Join us on the subway and ask them how they feel about higher fares and poorer service.”

“New Yorkers are fed up with fare hikes, bad service, and overcrowded trains — we’ve been hearing from frustrated riders for months,” Sifuentes said. “It’s about time the governor does too.”

Riders Alliance has launched a petition asking Cuomo to ride the subway. The complete letter to Cuomo is below:

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Does Cuomo Plan to Leave Straphangers Holding the Bag?

There’s been a lot of noise so far this week about toll reform and the MTA funding gap, but the people who can actually do something about it remain conspicuously silent. Chief among them: Governor Andrew Cuomo.

It's amazing what this man refuses to deal with. Photo: Azi Paybarah/Flickr

The longer he stays silent, the harder straphangers will fall. Photo: Azi Paybarah/Flickr

Things kicked off on Monday with a dire warning from Robert Foran, the MTA’s chief financial officer. He told board members that if Albany leaves the MTA holding the bag on transit investment, riders should prepare for a 15 percent fare hike.

MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast, Foran’s boss and a recently-renewed Cuomo appointee, issued a statement the next day in an attempt to tamp down concerns splashed across tabloid covers. “Yesterday’s mention of a potential 15 percent fare and toll increase was a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question,” he said. “No one has proposed we pay for our capital needs on the backs of our riders, and no one is considering it.”

Here’s the problem: As both the Times and the Daily News observed, the $14 billion gap in the MTA’s capital plan isn’t going anywhere. Without a funding solution from Albany, straphangers will be stuck with the bill.

Both papers, along with the Regional Plan Association, this week urged Cuomo to look at the Move NY toll reform plan. Signs that the governor is interested are close to nonexistent. He dismissed the idea as it was being developed in 2012 and again in 2013. In February, he said “the concept has merit” but played political pundit, claiming it would fall victim to the same opposition that killed congestion pricing before he took office.

What the governor is ignoring, of course, is the fact that Move NY is designed to address the very problems that led to congestion pricing’s downfall in Albany. Not only does it cut tolls on outer-borough crossings with few transit options, it would have Manhattanites contribute more, through taxi fees and closing a special Manhattan-only parking tax exemption, than they would have under congestion pricing.

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De Blasio Deputy Anthony Shorris Ducks Questions on MTA Funding

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s One New York plan, focused on the intersection of income inequality and the environment, doesn’t hesitate to make big recommendations to the MTA, like a new subway line. To pay for those plans, de Blasio will need Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to take action, but the mayor isn’t putting forward his own ideas about how to fund the MTA.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris. Photo: Wikipedia

While the Move NY toll reform plan aligns with the mayor’s environmental and equity goals, de Blasio has avoided taking a position on it. Today, his top deputy wouldn’t elaborate on City Hall’s position except to note that the mayor is “leading the fight” to pass a federal transportation bill.

After his morning keynote at the annual Regional Plan Association assembly at the Waldorf-Astoria, First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris continued the administration’s waltz around the Move NY Fair Plan during a press scrum.

“Look, I think one thing we’ve said from the beginning is the full funding of the MTA capital program is essential to the city, to this mayor’s agenda, and to the whole One New York plan, and even more broadly, to the whole region,” Shorris said. “Everybody’s going to have to figure out how to come together and do that. That’s the city, the state, the MTA itself.”

Then Shorris shifted to Congress.

“It’s also very important that the transportation bill in Washington be passed. There’s actually a critical federal component,” Shorris said.

I asked if that meant the city wouldn’t talk about its transit funding preferences until a new transportation bill passes Congress. “No, it means that we all, though, have to fight to get that transportation bill funded,” Shorris replied, “and the mayor’s leading that fight right now.”

When it comes to funding the MTA, however, federal policy is the wrong place to focus. With power in Washington split between the Obama White House and the GOP Congress, federal transit funding isn’t about to change much. The arena where the mayor has allies and can actually make a difference is Albany.

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