NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Investigators said human error was to blame for a subway derailment that injured dozens of people in Harlem this week, and two Metropolitan Transportation Authority supervisors have been suspended without pay – accused of not following protocols.
And while subway service was restored Wednesday morning a day after the derailment on the A Train, many commuters wanted to know if Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will improve the system for good.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the subway derailment brought out the best in government workers – police officers, firefighters, and medics pitching in to aid the injured and evacuate hundreds of terrified passengers.
But two government workers were glaring no-shows. Cuomo was in Albany, while de Blasio went to the gym in the morning and then held meetings at Gracie Mansion.
“Riders are frustrated, riders are angry, and after the derailment, riders are scared,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance.
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, a group of subway riders held a protest Wednesday night outside Cuomo’s office on Third Avenue, demanding that he do more to fix the subway system permanently.
“If you do not fix the subway, next year’s election will be a referendum on your governorship,” said subway rider Michael Sciaraffo.
Sciaraffo was stuck on an F Train earlier this month. He transit groups in the rally, demanding that Cuomo come up with a plan.
“As the subway system falls apart, on Governor Cuomo’s watch, riders are demanding to know, ‘Where is Governor Cuomo?’” Raskin said.
Jaqi Cohen of the Straphangers Campaign said riders are risking their jobs, sanity and safety.
“Yesterday’s A Train derailment was a dangerous and a stark reminder that New York City’s transit system is facing a crisis point,” Cohen said.
Cuomo was at the Hoboken derailment last September in a different state, and a the Long Island Rail Road derailment in January. But he was not in Harlem on Tuesday.
“He’s been in Albany because of this special session,” said his spokesman.
Although the governor runs the MTA, pundits think the mayor’s no-show was a whole lot worse.
“No, mayor is the worst optic. Why? Because the mayor’s here, and when a disaster occurs, guess who’s supposed to be there on the scene making people comfortable – the guy who runs Albany or the guy who runs the five boroughs?” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
De Blasio has already been called to task for not going to the January LIRR derailment for more than 100 were injured. At the time, he said it was “a question of magnitude,” and the most serious injury was a broken leg.
But de Blasio slammed then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg when Bloomberg did not go to the December 2013 Metro-North train derailment at Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx, in which four died and 63 were injured.
Team de Blasio defended the mayor’s absence Tuesday. Spokesman Austin Fann said: “Sometimes it’s helpful to have the Mayor there, and sometimes it serves little purpose…. Our emergency responders were immediately dispatched to the scene.”
But local residents said the mayor and governor should have steppe in.
“They should be up here. They should be here, because we pay taxes as American people and our representatives should be here on the ground with the people,” said Mike Green of Harlem. “That’s who they represent, the people.”
“They should’ve been here to look out for those concerns,” said Angie Brown of Kingsbridge, the Bronx.
“They have to step in,” said Mina Gumah of Harlem. “I wish they were here to experience what was going on.”