NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With New Yorkers growing increasingly frustrated with the city’s subway service, Mayor Bill de Blasio took to the subway Sunday to talk about their concerns.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, de Blasio also shifted blame in another direction.
De Blasio led a crowd of reporters and photographers onto the 4th Avenue/9th Street station platform, and then on to the single car of an F Train bound for downtown Brooklyn.
With a captive audience packed like sardines, he was on the rails and railing against New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“The State of New York has used the MTA as a piggy bank, taking almost half a billion dollars out of the MTA to use for the state budget,” de Blasio said.
The mayor’s eight-minute long Sunday subway show was intended again to publicly declare that mass transit is not his responsibility, and that the systems failings are Cuomo’s and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s fault.
“The governor and Chairman Lhota simply need to get in front of everyone and say, ‘We’re fully responsible,” de Blasio said.
But on Thursday, Cuomo and Lhota cited a decades-old document requiring the city to pitch in much more money than it already does for subways.
The mayor bristled at that.
“I’ve been surprised at this the demand for more money when the money they have hasn’t been spent in any rational fashion,” de Blasio said. “We provide $2 1/2 billion. They have not spent 90 percent of it, it’s a simple as that we are not under a legal obligation to provide more.”
Exiting the train halted all follow up questions, and the mayor walked several blocks to his new campaign headquarters in downtown Brooklyn.
But he was not expecting impromptu questions about housing from Chad Brown, who said he and his wife have been homeless and in shelters for 4 years.
“We need more housing, man,” Brown said.
“Obviously, more importantly, build more affordable housing,” de Blasio told Brown. “Good luck to you.”
The mayor took time with Brown and did not avoid him — just days after being accused of cowardly distancing himself from Vickie Paladino, 63, as she angrily confronted him about his leadership.
She says she overheard him say, “Get me away from this woman.”
Sunday seemed all about better optics as de Blasio rode the subway, even though he has gone on the record before that it doesn’t always make sense to do such things.
And where the mayor goes — even in the subway — his official car is not allowed to be far behind. It was there waiting for him when it was time to leave.
“The car is going to be going with me either way, whether I’m in the subway or in the car,” he said.
Later on Sunday, the Mayor’s train ride was criticized by Lhota, who said, “What we need is leadership, not photo ops.”
CBS2 reached out to Cuomo’s office for comment and had not heard back Sunday evening.
The MTA is set to present its 30-day overhaul plan this week.