It’s possible that you’ve heard static on the subway this week. Noise, that is, apart from the usual announcements that nobody wants to hear:
“We’re being stalled because of a sick passenger.”
“Downtown Q trains will be making all local stops.”
“This train is going out of service.”
Those are frustrating enough, but other sounds were even more annoying.
They were the voices of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio continuing their petty rivalry to nobody’s gain but their own vanity.
This week, the egos clashed again over who should fund the subway, bus and paratransit services of the nation’s most vital transit system. The egos and their representatives reached deep to cite arcane city laws, 20th century history, the apportionment of veto powers and real estate value, not to mention clever legalistic arguments. All to muddy the real issue: that the transit system, for all its problems, needs more direct funding. With no real path forward, it’s all just squawking.
Cuomo is running for re-election as governor and seems bent on a 2020 campaign for president, and he benefits by muddying his obvious MTA responsibility.
De Blasio thinks he can be the beacon of progressivism for the 21st century and is happy to hold out for long-shot soak-the-rich funding schemes that have little practical means of becoming reality.
They’re both happy to have subordinates speak up in fear and anger, and to permit themselves to stay out of the direct line of fire. It creates an illusion that something is being done for the MTA. Hey, it’s the other guy who’s the problem. But none of this matters to straphangers.
For riders, the situation is clear. Even with some new cars on the way, the equipment and systems that direct them are far too old. What little money is available is in too many cases wasted. Our prized transit jewel is too often an embarrassment.
We’ve become too accustomed to hearing “we’re being held in the station momentarily.” There’s train traffic ahead. Everything else is just noise.