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Christine Quinn: Mayor should control MTA board

New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate

New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn speaks to the media outside a political forum on a boat in Manhattan. (April 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn wants the city to have more control and power when it comes to shaping the future of mass transit.

In a speech at LaGuardia Community College Thursday, the City Council speaker proposed having a mayoral majority control of the MTA's board.

In addition to having more board members from the five boroughs, her plan would make the mayor, not the governor, able to nominate the head of New York City Transit.

Quinn said 90 percent of the MTA's ridership comes from the city and residents needed more of a voice at the table.

"When you're on a board and you represent the city, you will have a laserlike focus on the mass transit of the five boroughs," she told amNewYork.

Quinn also proposed an expansion of the select bus service program that runs in Manhattan to the outer boroughs and more Metro-North and ferry service.

A spokesman for the MTA declined to comment about Quinn's speech. Changing the way MTA board members are nominated would need approval from the State Legislature.

The governor's office didn't return a phone calls for comment. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he would review Quinn's proposal.

GOP mayoral candidate and former MTA chief Joe Lhota criticized Quinn's vision, noting that most of her plans, such as the bus line expansion, were already proposed by the MTA.

Gene Russianoff, a spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign, said that mayoral control of the 21-member board has been proposed in the past and said Quinn put up a good argument for it in her speech. However, he acknowledged making change is easier said than done.

Quinn noted Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to get control of the public schools after years of failure by other administrators.

"I'm not going to walk away from it because someone else couldn't get it done," she said.

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