After nearly six months, Mayor Bill De Blasio will meet the city subway chief, a man with whom he hasn’t even spoken, The New York Times reports.
The mayor and head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit Authority, which controls buses along with the subways in the city, will finally meet this Tuesday at City Hall.
The New Yorker previously reported about the fact that the two men had never spoken to each other, and this information was shocking to some subway riders and even to the subway head himself, Andy Byford himself.
“Bit weird,” he said. “I should ring him up.”
“The mayor should be rooting for Byford along with the rest of us,” Nicole Gelinas said, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, adding that a meeting would be a “gesture of good will.”
The disclosure kicked off more disputing between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the mayor, both of whom blame each other for the city’s struggling transit system.
“Those on both teams doing the work are constantly talking,” the mayor’s spokesman, Eric Phillips, said in a statement. “If the suggestion is that the mayor and Byford splitting a croissant at some point would have a governor-run system fixed, I’m skeptical of that logic.”
The governor charges that de Blasio doesn’t care about the “lifeblood of the city,” of which he is mayor.
“The fact that he hasn’t met with Byford is consistent with his total removal from the New York City subway system,” Cuomo told reporters last week, where he continued suggesting that the mayor needs to come up with the money to overhaul the subways.
James S. Oddo, the Staten Island borough president, met with Byford before the mayor did, even though Staten Island only has one rapid transit rail line, the Staten Island Railway, and express and local buses.
“I have had numerous conversations with Andy Byford, in person and on the phone,” Oddo said on Twitter. “And we (Staten Island) don’t even have a subway.”
Cuomo does control the subway, and most tax raises need to come from Albany, not City Hall. Regardless of the politics surrounding this situation, subway leaders and mayors tended to work together when needed in the past, especially during moments of crisis or on critical projects, according to The New York Times.
Byford insisted that his relationship with the governor is fine.
“The governor interviewed me and hired me,” Byford said. “I meet with the governor often; I speak with him regularly. The governor fully supports the Fast Forward plan, which we are extremely happy about.”
The mayor’s detachment is out of place, especially because the subway continues frustrating so many of the mayor’s citizens and tourists and everyone else who uses the system.
By: John McGrath
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