Hop on the Sal train!
Hizzoner hopeful Sal Albanese says he can get New York City’s malfunctioning transit system back on track — by bringing it under mayoral control.
The former city councilman told the Bay Ridge Democrats for Change club on Feb. 7 that he would roll in a new era of efficiency and end constant fare hikes and service cuts by getting the state government to turn over the buses and subways to him.
“Too often, we have to go begging to the state legislature to get things done,” said Albanese. “It’s a city service, and the mayor is the voice of the people of New York City, so it should be under mayoral control and the mayor should be accountable for it.”
Albanese said he would model his plan on London’s tube system, which the English capital’s mayor manages through a board of appointed directors — and which the candidate claimed leads to a far smoother-running public transportation network. The state would need to create a new agency to run the Metro-North Trains and Long Island Railroad.
Albanese said he would assemble a crack team of bus and subway experts from across the globe to serve as his system overseers, rather than just businessmen like Cuomo-appointed Metropolitan Transit Authority ex-chairman — and Republican mayoral candidate — Joe Lhota.
“I wouldn’t have appointed Lhota. He’s a good administrator, but he doesn’t know anything about transit. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Albanese.
Transferring the MTA’s headquarters to Gracie Mansion would be a radical track change from 60 years of transit policy. Private companies built and operated the subway system from the early 1900s, until the city bought and consolidated them in 1940. Crippling strikes led to the 1953 formation of the state-managed and -funded semi-private New York Transit Authority, which the Metropolitan Transit Authority later absorbed.
Albanese said he would still seek state funding for his new municipal transit authority, as well as lobby for federal money and for the reinstatement of the commuter tax to finance the system.
“Commuters come here and use our services, and they should help pay for them,” said Albanese. “I’m going to pressure as many people as I can for funding.”
Although the transit transition would be complicated, Albanese assured club members that making the mayor the head conductor would pay off in increased efficiency — and failing to could cost dearly.
“If we can’t move people around the city, properly, the economy is going to suffer,” Albanese said.
Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.