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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday a Long Island Rail Road strike would be inconvenient but not a disaster.
The Democrat governor, who is up for re-election this year, said he still isn’t sure if he’ll get personally involved in the contract stalemate between LIRR unions and the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Cuomo sought to distance himself from the issue a bit, saying it was “between the union and the riders.”
But the governor tried to downplay the potential impact of a strike, which could begin this weekend. He said New Yorkers have lived through strikes before.
“Look, disastrous? No,” Cuomo said at an event in Schenectady. “Look we’ve had strikes before, right, and we’ve survived. And we’ve had disasters. And we know what that’s like. Hurricane Sandy was a disaster, and we’ve gone through other disasters. This is not a disaster. A real pain, maybe, but not a disaster.”
The governor sought to deflect a question on how his hand-picked MTA leadership has handled the situation with the strike deadline looming.
“It often gets pushed to the brink, and this is a major negotiation,” Cuomo said. “The LIRR is vital to Long Islanders. Long Island households do not have any additional funds to pay for increases in fares . . . So the MTA is saying we want to hold the line on fares, and we need to run the railroad. So we’re working within a budget and the union is saying they want additional funds.”
Cuomo said any resolution has to be “fair.”
“Remember the MTA doesn’t have any money except for what the taxpayers and the riders give to the MTA,” Cuomo said. “This is a resolution, really, between the union and the riders.”