New York unveils nearly $1 billion rescue plan to stabilize subway
"The subway system is no doubt in distress and we're here for solutions," said Joseph J. Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) at the MTA headquarters as he issued an immediate subway stabilization plan of $836 million that includes sweeping, repairing and cleaning of subway trains and stations within the next year.
The new measures amount to the first phase of upgrading and modernizing the problem-plagued 113-year-old subway.
Phase Two, which will cost about $8 billion, will "get it out of the late 19th century and get it into the 21st century quickly," Lhota said.
Lhota asked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to help raise funds for the plan and he suggested the city and the state split the cost evenly.
Blasio, who has resisted pouring money into the subway since the state runs the system, called Lhota's plan an "important first step" in a news conference at the City Hall subway station Tuesday evening but he refused to commit more city money to support it.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said Lhota's plan was "substantive and realistic" and he agreed to split the cost with the city.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency last month to speed up repairs on the subway, which dates back to 1904. He tasked Lhota, who was appointed to the job the second time, to submit a rescue plan within 30 days.
New York's subway has long been the lifeblood of the city. However, the number of subway delays partly due to the aging infrastructure tripled in the past five years, to 70,000 per month, according to a report last month.
About 5.7 million people take the subway on an average weekday. ■