Etiquette demands we let the passenger exit the train before letting anyone else get on, so: Thank you to Joe Lhota for a decent second tour at the MTA. The good? He put together an $800 million actual plan that’s beginning — though it’s far too early to count chickens — to improve service. The bad? Subway service remains routinely lousy and is occasionally horrendous.
Which is why Gov. Cuomo, who most of the time admits that he is ultimately responsible for making the trains run on time, needs to get a talented new motorman or woman at the controls, right quick.
First necessary skill: Managing massive systems. Transit Authority President Andy Byford has laid out a smart plan to overhaul ancient signals and replace antique trains. With more moving parts than all of those cars put together, it demands expert oversight.
Second: Marshaling resources. The plan’s $40 billion-over-10-years pricetag doesn’t include the $20 billion additionally needed for just maintaining the system. There’s simply no way to begin to generate that revenue without charging vehicles to enter Manhattan’s core, which is an idea Cuomo, to his credit, says he’s behind but has yet to really put his shoulder into.
Third: Attacking costs. Cinder blocks on the MTA’s ankles are union contracts and other work rules that greatly inflate spending, especially on major infrastructure projects. (One infuriating example we will pile atop a stack described in a New York Times exposé last year: Using two-person crews to run trains that need zero operators.)
Though Cuomo admits spending is “bloated,” he’s been quieter than a track rat on how to combat such costs.