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Cuomo demands de Blasio pay $18B subway fixes

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Just a few months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced the city to foot half the cost of emergency subway repairs, he is now demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio cough up more than $18 billion to help pay for long-term fixes in the system.

Cuomo said the city has the money to split the costs of a planned massive overhaul of the subway system, which is expected to cost about $37 billion over 10 years.

“Fifty-fifty. Let’s solve it. Let’s stop arguing. Fifty-fifty,” the governor said during an unrelated press conference on Thursday when asked how much the city should pay for the plan. “I don’t think there’s anything more reasonable than fifty-fifty.”

Cuomo has said that the state took over paying for the subway years ago when the city was in financial crisis, but now that the coffers are flush, it should pay its share.

City officials said the governor’s request is ridiculous.

“After failing miserably to secure a sustainable revenue source, we knew the governor would be back for more,” said de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips. “The mayor has contributed a record amount bailing out Governor Cuomo’s subway mismanagement. Rather than constantly asking for more from all our riders and taxpayers, the governor should pass a millionaire’s tax to fix the trains he’s run into the ground.”

Transit advocates skewered Cuomo’s statements, saying he’s not taking responsibility for the subway.

“Governor Cuomo controls the MTA. He also dominates the state budget process, the only legal mechanism that can raise the tens of billions of dollars it will take to fix the subway,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance. “The MTA now has a modernization plan but the governor still hasn’t put forward a funding plan for the Legislature to vote on, and riders continue to suffer through regular breakdowns and delays.”

Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon also took the opportunity to knock the governor over his words.

“Straphangers are sick of this political blame game,” she said. “It is the governor’s legal responsibility to fund the subways. Period. But instead of accepting his responsibility, Andrew Cuomo tries to place the blame on everyone else, including, now, the taxpayers.”

Cuomo and de Blasio fought for 10 months over whether the city should pay $418 million for half the cost of MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s Subway Action Plan, a program launched a year ago to staunch delays.

Cuomo finally asked the state Legislature to pass a law requiring the city to pay and the de Blasio administration coughed up the cash.

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/07/12/cuomo-demands-de-blasio-pay-18b-for-subway-fixes/

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To save cash, MTA could make cuts to Select Bus Service, subway cleanings

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The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is looking for ways to save $562 million over the next few years and its planning to do so by halting the expansion of Select Bus Service in the outer boroughs, cutting subway car cleaning positions, and eliminating overtime payment to NYPD officers for extra far evasion patrol, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The MTA is expecting to save around $4 million annually by cutting increased fare-evasion patrol that results in the agency paying overtime to the NYPD; the agency also thinks that it could save $28 million over the next four years by postponing the expansion of the Select Bus Service into “transit deserts” in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx until 2021. Additionally, agency officials plan to save the agency $8.4 million annually by reducing staff at some terminals for subway car cleaning, and another $2.4 million could potentially be saved by reducing fare-evasion patrols on some select bus service routes.

According to the WSJ, internal emails highlight that MTA board members are worried about the measures being taken to reduce costs for the agency, despite still planning to hire more than 1,000 workers under the Subway Action Plan. The emails suggests that some board members were not aware of the specifics of the service-related cuts when MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran presented the board with an overview of the plan in July.

Nevertheless, during an interview on Monday, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota stated that the reductions are not service cuts and that it is simply a “redeployment of resources.” He also highlighted that the MTA still intends to add more than 700 positions over the next few years.

“The financial plan was built with three ironclad requirements—maintenance of service levels, absolutely no layoffs, and avoidance of any unplanned fare/toll hike—all of which were accomplished,” said MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein. “In fact, the headcount at New York City Transit is increasing– while hitting savings targets – which is allowing us to accomplish significant amounts of badly needed repairs and maintenance work.”

New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford said in an August 3 email to board members that the reductions are “intended to be temporary in nature while the necessary funding and revenue stream discussions sort out.”

Source: https://ny.curbed.com/2018/8/15/17693128/mta-budget-cuts-select-bus-service-subway-action-plan

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Bronx transportation options now include NYC Ferry service to Manhattan

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The city’s ferry system on Wednesday launched its first-ever service out of the Bronx, providing a new commuting alternative for those in the transit-starved borough.

The NYC Ferry Soundview Route connects Clason Point Park in the Bronx to Wall Street/Pier 11, making stops at East 90th Street and East 34th Street along its route.

Clason Point residents who took the boat the morning of the launch said they were thrilled to have a faster and more picturesque way into the city.
“I love it — it’s a great alternative for transportation,” said Millie Campuzano, 57, who works as a legal assistant near the ferry’s final stop downtown.

Campuzano said she lives near the route’s starting point in the Clason Point section of the Bronx, where her options for getting to work were limited and time-consuming. The area is not accessible by subway. In the past, she either drove to work or took the Bx39 or Bx27 bus to the closest subway station, and both commutes took roughly an hour and fifteen minutes during rush hour.

The Soundview Route, on the other hand, takes about 45 minutes. At $2.75, a one-way ticket costs the same as a subway ride.

For residents who enjoy Manhattan but are tired of slow and unpredictable subway service, the ferry is a breath of fresh air, said one longtime local.

“I go to Manhattan a lot for pleasure, and traveling from the Bronx to New York is usually not a pleasure,” said Bill Folchi, 66, a retiree who said he goes into the city to enjoy the museums about twice a week.

His trek would normally take about an hour and a half, he said.

Folchi had no complaints about the ferry, on the other hand.

“It seems to be on time,” he said. “And you breathe some fresh air.”

The 9:22 a.m. ferry Wednesday morning was sparsely populated with just a few dozen travelers.

The NYC Ferry has served more than five million riders since premiering in May 2017, but that ridership is significantly dwarfed by other forms of transit — the subway, for instance, serves more than five million riders daily — leading to criticism that the city is overspending on the waterborne service.

Mayor Bill de Blasio in May announced the city will dedicate nearly twice as much taxpayer money as originally planned to the ferry service, funneling an additional $300 million into the program to serve an annual ridership of 9 million by 2023.

NYC Ferry service also will soon be offered to the Lower East Side. A planned 32-minute route, launching on Aug. 29, will run from Wall Street/Pier 11 to Long Island City, stopping at Corlears Hook, Stuyvesant Cove and East 34th Street.

Source: https://www.amny.com/transit/nyc-ferry-bronx-1.20484145

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Drunk MTA Bus Driver Smashes Into Parked Cars, Found at 3.2x Legal Limit Behind Wheel in Brooklyn: Complaint

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An MTA bus driver was busted for allegedly being drunk behind the wheel as he drove erratically, with passengers, in Brooklyn over the weekend and smashed into three parked cars, according to a criminal complaint released Monday.

Lenny Lachman, 24, was driving the B82 bus with nine passengers around 1:30 a.m. Sunday when the bus hit parked cars on Flatlands Avenue and East 46th Street, the complaint says. No one was hurt; the vehicles all were scratched.
Responding officers found the driver displaying signs of intoxication, including watery eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on his breath, officials said. He agreed to take a chemical test to analyze his blood alcohol content, and it tested at 0.257 percent, more than three times the legal limit, the complaint says.

He was charged with DWI and reckless driving. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available.
The MTA said it has “absolutely zero-tolerance” for the driver’s alleged actions.

“This bus operator has been removed from service immediately without pay and we are working with NYPD to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out.”

He was hired in 2017, officials said.

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/MTA-Bus-Driver-Drunk-DWI-Brooklyn-Arrest-490156441.html

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