NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As commuters call for an end to the city’s mass transit nightmare, some city and state lawmakers attempted to trade places with them.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Thursday, the lawmakers endured a marathon subway journey that they said was more than just another photo op.
Following months of delays, breakdowns and derailments, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and members of the City Council embarked on was called the 24-Hour Riders Respond Transit Tour to hear directly from the people.
They had a steamy, smelly, shaky shared experience on the ride, which went on for 12 straight hours.
“We’re interested in getting at the heart of it,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
And they sweated on the platforms — quizzing straphangers about fears, the delays and other inconveniences.
One woman said she was getting delayed almost every day.
“I hope they do something about it,” a man added.
On the second stop of their tour, Bronx State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-The Bronx) and Upper Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-10th), the chairman of the City Council Transportation Committee, got an earful from the dean of Columbia University’s medical school.
“You got great people, great places and an embarrassing subway system here,” Lee Goldman said, called the 168th Street station in Washington Heights an embarrassment. “We have steps you can’t use. We have elevators that frequently don’t work.”
The subway ride was research before the City Council holds a hearing next week on the Summer of Hell transit problems.
Dinowitz says he’ll use the riders’ complaints to put pressure on the mayor and governor to stop their finger pointing and work as a team.
Meanwhile, the City Council will put state and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials on the hot seat and decide how to pitch, potentially with more city funding.
On their tour, the city and state leaders saw many stations that have elevators and escalators, but they also had stops that do not have them.
Disabled ironworker Raymond Acevedo of Jamaica, Queens struggled on the stairs of the East Broadway station on the F line.
“I can’t walk,” he said. “know, I’m really bad off.”
New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg conceded the state and city must do better.
“It’s quite costly to come back into our very old stations and retrofit them with elevators and escalators, but I think we all agree more needs to be done there.”
TRACK 7: Commuters say they are tired of talk… and finger pointing at each other from Mayor DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
They want it to stop.
“Instead of going back and forth over who’s the most responsible, both the city and state should be working together,” said Jaqi Cohen of the Straphangers Campaign.
Commuters told the leaders until they ride regularly, every day, they do know what commuters know.
The lawmakers rode the subways in Manhattan and the Bronx Thursday. They will also be riding the rails between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday – focusing on Queens and Brooklyn and also visiting the Staten Island Railway.
A report released last month by Stringer’s office found New Yorkers are deeply dissatisfied with subway service.
Nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers gave the system a C or lower grade, while one in seven riders gave a failing grade.
“We understand riders are frustrated – and they have every right to be – that’s why Chairman Lhota laid out an aggressive plan to take immediate action to stabilize and modernize the system,” the MTA said in a statement released Thursday. “Today he also unveiled a new leadership team to implement that plan – everyone is stepping up, from the state, to local elected officials, to the business community, and it’s time for City Hall to do their share in funding half this needed rescue plan.”
And remember, as you encounter subway problems during the “Summer of Hell,” let us know about it by Tweeting with #TrainTrouble.