NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The results of a 24-hour straphangers survey found that delays are the biggest issue for subway riders, the City Council’s Transportation Committee and other elected officials revealed Tuesday.
After collecting 2,000 commuter responses, the survey found that nearly 50 percent of riders say delays are the biggest issue while 75 percent say they missed appointments due to subway delays in the last two weeks.
“We asked riders what their biggest concerns were with the system and we heard delays and overcrowding were the top priority,” City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said.
The survey also found that a vast majority of riders say they find out about service only after entering the system. The committee is holding a hearing Tuesday to discuss their findings.
At the hearing, the City Council also reviewed the MTA’s short-term plan to get the system up to date. The plan includes 2,700 new hires and redeployed workers cleaning the entire system, track work, escalator and elevator repairs, cutting incident response times and introducing a pilot program for standing room only subway cars.
The plan would cost $456 million in operating budget and $380 million in the Capital budget, which means the city will have to help foot the bill.
The MTA Tuesday morning praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his promise to add $1 billion to the MTA’s Capital Plan, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
“This reality based recovery program of essential repair work is truly an investment in the city’s future,” said MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim.
“I understand the MTA is a creature of the state and therefore you respond to the governor, but to make it seem like the governor is being so magnanimous and that this city is rejecting its responsibility, I’m not going to sit here and accept that,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The MTA also refuted the amount of tax payer dollars contributed by the people of New York City.
“The idea that somehow the City of New York is not contributing or doing its share, is not only an insult to us here who are having this hearing, but to taxpayers,” said Mark-Viverito.
Hakim said the MTA is prepared to hire 600 to 700 new employees this year if the agency knows the money will be there to cover the cost.
“There is another part of our constituents which are our employees,” she said. “This has been a very challenging time period for them. They’ve worked through storms, they’ve worked through bad press, they just consistently have been able to work with us and they’re going to be a big part of the solution going forward.”
The MTA Board has 14 voting seats, only four of which are given to the city. Councilman Williams said that is unfair.
“The irresponsible thing to do is if you have majority of governance and don’t put the majority of the money and are asking for additional money and pretending that it’s us holding it up,” he said. “It’s disrespectful to us and it’s disrespectful to people riding the subway. They want answers and they want it now.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio officially called on Albany to approve a millionaires’ tax.
“So that New Yorkers who typically travel in first class pay their fair share so the rest of us can get around,” he said.
Several City Council members spoke in favor of de Blasio’s tax proposal at the Tuesday hearing. Lawmakers in Albany will not consider the tax until sometime next year if at all, and Republican state senators have already said they are against it.
If the state did approve that tax, it could bring in as much as $800 million a year in revenue for the MTA.
There are a number of other ideas on how to increase revenue to fix these issues from congestion pricing, a commuter tax or tolls in Midtown.
Rodriguez said Tuesday that long term, it will cost between $27 billion and $28 billion to bring the city’s subway system to the 21st century and said money is needed from a variety of sources.
“We believe that everything should be on the table, including the possibility for the city to increase their contribution,” he said.
He said the mayor and the governor need to sit together at the table because they have the capacity to fix the system now, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
While the MTA is adamant about avoiding fare hikes, commuters feel they are inevitable.
“We have to meet them half way, our fares are going to go up,” said commuter Chris Coronesi. “There’s no way of getting around that.”
The committee Tuesday is also expected to hear testimony from Con Edison, which has been blamed for many of the recent power problems.