Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro believes cost reforms can save the MTA.
Capital and operating cost overhauls took top billing in the Dutchess County executive’s 30-page outline to fix the struggling transportation authority, which was released Tuesday. Molinaro, at a City Hall news conference, criticized what he described as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “political gamesmanship” and lack of responsibility as the city’s subways and buses suffer declining ridership and deteriorating service.
“I think the MTA is in the midst of a death spiral . . . failure of leadership, failure of fiduciary stewardship, failure of financial responsibility and failure of priorities — all impacted by a governor who is more interested in vanity projects than making the improvements necessary,” Molinaro said.
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The GOP nominee says collective bargaining and overtime and health care cost reforms will help the MTA reduce operating and some capital expenses. He also wants to cut down on overstaffing — such as by reducing the number of workers on site for subway tunnel boring machines — to help bring down the price tags of large projects, which experts agree are far more expensive in New York City than in similar metropolitan areas. For example, with a price tag of $4.5 billion, some consider the Second Avenue subway extension — with three new stations and two miles of track — to be the most expensive subway project in the world.
“In order to make the appropriate investments we cannot only rely on revenue. We have to confront the costs,” he said. “And the MTA, without question, is falling victim to waste, fraud and abuse, and we as a state must confront the high cost of labor.”
Molinaro’s blueprint also pledges support for MTA Transit President Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan to improve transit service and accessibility in the city through modern signals and new train cars, as well as improved bus routes and more aggressive installation of subway station elevators. Fast Forward has been estimated to cost around $40 billion.
While Molinaro endorsed the idea of city congestion pricing to raise funds for Byford’s strategy, he said accommodations would have to be made for outer borough car owners and that cost efficiencies must come before seeking new revenue.
“I am not willing to ask a single taxpayer, nor commuter, to pay one dollar more without the concessions in cost,” Molinaro said, noting that he also supports value-capture financing and a phaseout of the MTA commuter payroll tax.
Abbey Collins, a Cuomo campaign spokeswoman, linked Molinaro with Trump — though Molinaro didn’t vote for the president — and said in a statement that he had “exactly zero ideas of his own.
“While Trump mini-me Molinaro has been busy copying and pasting the MTA’s own plan into his policy book, it is Governor Cuomo who has appointed world-class senior leadership, secured a dedicated revenue stream, enacted the first phase of congestion pricing and charged the MTA to undertake the Fast Forward plan,” Collins said.
Tony Utano, the president of TWU Local 100, the transit workers’ union that has defended Cuomo, said Molinaro’s plan is “anti-union.”
“The Molinaro plan for the MTA is a total non-starter that relies on faulty statistics, and a vicious anti-union theory that workers are overcompensated for their labor,” Utano said in a statement.