NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a head-scratching moment Wednesday, starring Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
He said he doesn’t want to be in charge of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
Gov. Cuomo likes to get down and dirty when it comes to the troubled agency. Just a few days ago he took an overnight tour of an “L” train subway tunnel soon set to be closed for repairs. And during an address on Monday, he said the following about fixing the MTA mess:
“This year we have to take the bull by the horns with the MTA. We have to pass a dedicated funding stream, so the MTA has the funding it needs. Congestion pricing is the only alternative,” he said.
He certainly sounded like someone who is taking charge. However, here’s what he said Wednesday while being interviewed on WAMC radio in Albany:
“Someone has to be accountable, uh, period. There has to be one person,” Cuomo said, adding when asked if he is supposed to be that person, “I don’t care. I, frankly, would let this cup pass from my lip. I just want to know, because I have many things to do.”
Presumably that would include fixing the mass transit mess. But when pressed again by host Dr. Alan Chartock about taking direct control of the MTA, the governor once again took a pass, and we don’t mean metro.
“Alan, I don’t. I have a lot of things that I’m working on. My main job now, at this time in history, is I’m fighting the federal government, seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Cuomo said.
In fact, the governor denies he has effective control of the transit agency, even though he controls six of the 17 MTA board members. But either way, wouldn’t he want to be the one held accountable, in order to solve the problems directly?
“The MTA is a train wreck that doesn’t stop and it’s a train gone wild that is completely out of control,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said.
Sheinkopf said Cuomo’s comments actually make political sense, since it doesn’t seem like anyone will solve the MTA’s problems anytime soon.
“It’ll take this governor and another governor or two to straighten out the mess. No one has been able to do it since the MTA was created in 1965,” Sheinkopf said.
A spokesperson for the governor told CBS2 in a statement, “Under the current governance structure the Governor is doing everything in his power to fix the MTA including appointing new leadership, committing an historic $8 billion state capital investment, declaring a state of emergency and leading the charge to pass congestion pricing. He has been clear the MTA needs to be restructured – what form that takes is subject to discussions with the Legislature and the nine different elected officials whose regions are served by the MTA’s various agencies.”