NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to hire two outside engineering firms to investigate Sunday night’s subway meltdown, after a power surge disrupted service and forced the evacuation of hundreds from stalled trains.
She’s also trying to solve the problem of an eviction moratorium that expires Tuesday, imperiling thousands of tenants, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.
It was the morning after a massive subway meltdown — 7:15 a.m. — and if New Yorkers wanted to know where their governor was, the answer was simple. She arrived at the Bowling Green subway station to take ownership of the problem and its fix.
“Let me be very clear. Last night was unacceptable. If you’re one of those riders, or people relying on safe transport, the system failed you,” Hochul said.
The governor explained what happened and ordered the MTA to hire outside engineers to do a deep dive into a power outage that affected about half of the system. She also lavished praise on transit workers, cops and firefighters who helped evacuate people from stalled trains.
“I want to commend the work of all these New Yorkers and the work that’s going on every single day at the MTA,” Hochul said.
But most importantly, she talked directly to riders and empathized with them.
“This is a scary situation, something we don’t want New Yorkers to ever have to experience again,” Hochul said. “I can only imagine how devastating it would have been for thousands of New Yorkers had this occurred during a morning commute like this morning.”
Mitchell Moss, director of NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation, said it was a bravura performance.
“I think Kathy Hochul is taking what everyone has avoided with the subway delay and turned it into an area where she’s showing her focus, and people care about having a governor who is directly talking to them, not going through intermediaries or board members,” Moss said.
And for a new governor who needs to run for re-election next year, it’s also smart politics. Before the pandemic, the MTA’s buses, subways and commuter rails serviced 11 million weekday customers.
“This is a brilliant strategy for someone who cares about New York. People care about one thing. Is the train or bus going to get me to work and home on time? It doesn’t matter whether the lights work on the bridges and the color of the lights on the tunnels,” Moss said.
Hochul’s next task is picking people to represent her on the MTA board.
The governor’s team is also working with legislative leaders to find a solution to the eviction moratorium that expires on Tuesday. She’s expected to call a special session of the Legislature once details are worked out.