NEW YORK — Gov. Kathy Hochul is asserting control over the transit system following the first major MTA challenge.
Hochul called the series of events that led to the overnight subway outage for about half the system unprecedented and unacceptable.
“The confluence of circumstances, this perfect storm that was created hasn’t happened before,” Hochul said. “But now that it has, we will learn lessons and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Hochul was asked during a briefing ahead of the morning commute how she would improve the aging subway system.
The MTA is often a punching bag for politicians, but for now, Hochul is taking the high road.
“I’m very excited about working with this incredible team about getting more done to improve the quality of the commute for all New Yorkers,” she said.
In his final days, Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo sparred with the state legislature about leadership at the top of the MTA.
Throughout his tenure, he lorded over the MTA pushing big projects by controlling its board. One of Cuomo’s closest allies, Larry Schwartz, was named in the report by Attorney General Letitia James.
Schwartz has refused to resign, and so far Hochul, who said she will clean house but may take up to 45 days to do so, has yet to fire Schwartz.
Danny Pearlstein with the Riders Alliance downplayed how much the politics of the MTA board will really impact Hochul’s ability to bring improvements to the bus, train and subway systems.
He praised Hochul for being responsive and out front following the overnight outage.
Pearlstein hopes she pushes to make the system more reliable.
“With aging infrastructure and the extreme weather we’ve all been seeing, we need a much more resilient transit system than one we have today,” he said. “We need leaders to prioritize that so that New Yorkers can keep moving on transit, and that’s millions of people every day.”
Hochul said a preliminary investigation has already shown the failure of several backup systems. Independent engineers will follow up.