If Sal Albanese Was Mayor…

He would take over the New York City transit system

The Brooklyn Paper
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Hop on the Sal train!

Hizzoner hopeful Sal Albanese says he can get New York City’s malfunctioning transit system back on track — by bringing it under mayoral control.

The former city councilman told the Bay Ridge Democrats for Change club on Feb. 7 that he would roll in a new era of efficiency and end constant fare hikes and service cuts by getting the state government to turn over the buses and subways to him.

“Too often, we have to go begging to the state legislature to get things done,” said Albanese. “It’s a city service, and the mayor is the voice of the people of New York City, so it should be under mayoral control and the mayor should be accountable for it.”

Albanese said he would model his plan on London’s tube system, which the English capital’s mayor manages through a board of appointed directors — and which the candidate claimed leads to a far smoother-running public transportation network. The state would need to create a new agency to run the Metro-North Trains and Long Island Railroad.

Albanese said he would assemble a crack team of bus and subway experts from across the globe to serve as his system overseers, rather than just businessmen like Cuomo-appointed Metropolitan Transit Authority ex-chairman — and Republican mayoral candidate — Joe Lhota.

“I wouldn’t have appointed Lhota. He’s a good administrator, but he doesn’t know anything about transit. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Albanese.

Transferring the MTA’s headquarters to Gracie Mansion would be a radical track change from 60 years of transit policy. Private companies built and operated the subway system from the early 1900s, until the city bought and consolidated them in 1940. Crippling strikes led to the 1953 formation of the state-managed and -funded semi-private New York Transit Authority, which the Metropolitan Transit Authority later absorbed.

Albanese said he would still seek state funding for his new municipal transit authority, as well as lobby for federal money and for the reinstatement of the commuter tax to finance the system.

“Commuters come here and use our services, and they should help pay for them,” said Albanese. “I’m going to pressure as many people as I can for funding.”

Although the transit transition would be complicated, Albanese assured club members that making the mayor the head conductor would pay off in increased efficiency — and failing to could cost dearly.

“If we can’t move people around the city, properly, the economy is going to suffer,” Albanese said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 5:40 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

neveridethel from Clinton hill says:
finally! sooooo sick of bloombucks using albany as an excuse to avoid any blame for the system!
Feb. 11, 2013, 8:39 am
ty from pps says:
neveridethel -- What sort of comment is that?

The MTA is a state agency. Do you know that Mayor Bloomberg is the mayor of the City of New York, not the mayor of the state?
Feb. 11, 2013, 2:26 pm
Jamie from Flatbush says:
The tolls from the MTA's bridges and tunnels are a major source of cross subsidies for its mass transit operations. Why does Albanese think that spinning off the money losing transit system would improve its finances or increase the likelihood of it being adequately funded?
Feb. 11, 2013, 3:14 pm
Ted from Ft. Greene says:
This is one of the most ignorant ideas since Mayoral control of schools. Our transit system is a regional system, not just the city, and all the equipment belongs to the STATE: what's Albnanese going to do, write a check?

Sure the MTA could use a lot of fixing with a big ol' broom, but this guy just eliminated himself from consideration as chief anything.
Feb. 11, 2013, 7:52 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
I don't really have an opinion either way on this proposal, but I think it's strange that he did not mention East River bridge tolls. Can't be too serious about improving NYC Transit without them, especially when you're talking about the State's neglect of the MTA.
Feb. 11, 2013, 10:57 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Unfortunately, Sal doesn't realize why the MTA was given to the state in the first place back in 1965. That was mainly because they could no longer afford to control it, so the state was given that instead. Where does he think that the city can have it back now, when they couldn't then? BTW, is he talking about just the subway and city buses or all the lines that are are part of them? Does he know that Metro-North RR, LIRR, Bee Line Bus, and LI Bus don't just serve the city, but also the suburbs as well? Either way, I doubt taking over would change much of what is going on over at the MTA right now. The only difference would be that it would just be under new management, but the problems will still be there no matter what agency they are.
Feb. 13, 2013, 4:01 pm
Reads T. Article from Park Slope says:
I don't know how it would work but it can't be much worse than it is now.

Perplexed at the few comments that talk about Metro North and LIRR as if Albaneese didn't address them. It's pretty clear and I quote "The state would need to create a new agency to run the Metro-North Trains and Long Island Railroad."

Like I said, I don't know how this would work but I think it's small-minded to dismiss overhauling a system that is a disaster. Besides, I'm pretty sure quite a few big city's transit authorities are controlled by the city but are still funded by the state (and in NYC it wouldn't be the only city-controlled agency funded that way).
Feb. 13, 2013, 4:28 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
Tal, neither Bee Line Bus or LI Bus are under the authority of the MTA.

And if you read the article at all, you would have seen the line, "the state would need to create a new agency to run the Metro-North Trains and Long Island Railroad," which would have entirely answered your question.
Feb. 13, 2013, 5:13 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Chris, right now, the MTA is a mess. However, riders such as yourself always say you want the best system, but you don't want to pay more for it. Instead, you just want everyone else to subsidize you as that is the case right now. I say that the fares should be hiked up just like everything else is. Why should riders get to pay less when us motorists are already paying a lot especially to foot the majority of the bill for you? Before you start claiming that the next fare hike will be too much, please look at many of the toll hikes, because they are much more. Until the fares surpass the tolls, you have nothing to complain about because they are still smaller. I know you are going to talk about how much better mass transit is in Europe, but in order to get to that, they to had to raise the fares, which is why they cost more even in the lowest fare zones, so be glad that you are currently paying less right now.
Feb. 13, 2013, 5:39 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal --
Every rider on a subway, bus, commuter train, commuter bus, or ferry is one less driver on your precious roads.

Everyone (including me!) subsidize mass transit so EVERYONE can get around easier.

There are 5.3 million riders DAILY on the NYC subways. Would you prefer they drove? Because if you let fares keep going up, the cost-benefit analysis begins to make *not* driving a lot more attractive.

I'm sure you'll have some dumb response to this, so I won't bother writing any more.
Feb. 13, 2013, 7:52 pm
ty from pps says:
By the way... which European cities have more expensive monthly fares? (I believe the answer is ONLY London.)
Feb. 13, 2013, 7:55 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
For those who don't pay attention to this stuff (like certain trolls), MTA NYC Transit has one of the highest farebox recovery ratios ever (over 60%). Meaning transit riders pay way more than their fare share, and the general public pay way less than they should. Of course, East River tolls are an easy way of rectifying that inequity.
Feb. 13, 2013, 9:04 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, I am not talking about monthly fares, I am talking about the regular base fare. Those that take commuter trains and buses already pay more than those that take the subway, and that's regardless to whether the fare is flat or not. The base fare even with the latest hike will still be less than all the tolls. When tolls go up, they don't go up in quarters like the fares, they go up by almost a dollar and the rates are higher. As for the base fare in major European cities (ie London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, etc), if you take them and convert them into US dollars, they are actually more, so whatever it is right now here, it's actually a bargain, and the same will be for what it costs in Tokyo as well, which is also known for having mass transit. Nevertheless, the amount the MTA collects from just its base fare is only 38%, which at last check is still a small number in being less than half.
Feb. 13, 2013, 10:06 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal - well done.
Feb. 14, 2013, 12:27 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I can just never understand why riders cry foul when it comes to shill another quarter to ride the subways and city buses, but they don't seem to mind when tolls for those that can't get around anywhere without a car have to pay much more, which sounds like the royal screw job if you asked me.
Feb. 14, 2013, 4:52 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal - You're a royal screw job.
Feb. 14, 2013, 5:19 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, the only thing you can come back with is a personal attack. Before you or any of your brothers in arms say anything about me having a say in what the MTA does, keep in mind that the MTA is a state agency, not a city agency, as it has been since 1965, so I do have a say since my tax dollars are going to them. The reason I am for the fare hikes is because I feel that those that use it more should pay more, not those that use it less or not at all. If you really want that SAS, East Side Access, and 7 extension, then I say that those that use the subways the most should pay for them, and the same for those that use the commuter rails, which is the case for the second since that one is the LIRR. Saying that increased/expanded tolls or even congestion pricing would cover it would just never work in practice as many would try to avoid it, though you guys already lost on that thanks to common sense and those up in Albany with a brain on that. As for the tolls, wasn't the original purpose of them supposed to be that they were to pay off whatever they were one and then be removed after that? Also, why is the VNB the most expensive in terms of the tolls, which only the GWB is more? It seems as the less they are used for what they are on, the more they go up when they should have been removed a long time ago.
Feb. 14, 2013, 5:58 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- Ignoring most of your dumbness... I'll simply repeat and emphasize that YOU DO BENEFIT FROM THE MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM.

Tal --
Every rider on a subway, bus, commuter train, commuter bus, or ferry is one less driver on your precious roads.

Everyone (including me!) subsidize mass transit so EVERYONE can get around easier.

There are 5.3 million riders DAILY on the NYC subways. Would you prefer they drove? Because if you let fares keep going up, the cost-benefit analysis begins to make *not* driving a lot more attractive.

I'm sure you'll have some dumb response to this, so I won't bother writing any more.
Feb. 14, 2013, 6:44 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
How about explaining how the MTA management still acts as if they are broke despite all of that, because it seems as if they revenue collected seems to be going elsewhere rather back into the system?
Feb. 14, 2013, 8:28 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal - Your pattern is infuriating.

You state something dumb and/or ignorant. Someone calls you out on it. So, you state something NEW and equally dumb and/or ignorant.

But, then the next time a similar subject comes up you repeat the SAME dumb and ingnorant things AGAIN and AGAIN... never modifying your opinion or position... and probably cutting & pasting for a depository of ignorant statements you keep somewhere on your mom's computer.
Feb. 15, 2013, 4:38 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Hearing that from you ty shows that you are even dumber, especially since you dodged the question entirely. The more mature response can just be that you have no answer for it rather than launching a personal attack, which is what you are doing right now. Then again, you like to use the internet especially faceless message boards to be someone you are not, because you feel that it's your break from reality. I asked this question, because this is the truth about the MTA. Just recently, they said that it was too much to help improve transit, but at the same time they can install special blue lights for the buses, which were completely unnecessary and later on removed. Again, either you have an answer or you don't, but knock it off with the personal attacks.
Feb. 15, 2013, 6:30 pm
ty from pps says:
Even dumber, perhaps. But we're making progress here... you've admitted you're dumb.
Feb. 15, 2013, 10:56 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Actually, ty, I exposed you for what you really are and that is a whacko attacko as said by Michael Moore. Seriously, the MTA is a dysfunctional family here. Even if congestion pricing was passed, it still wouldn't help them as if any other tax given to them seems to be doing anything. For the most part, many would avoid going where they would have to pay the tax and just wait for it to end. When you really think about it, was the idea of congestion pricing really to help with clean air or make a revenue for transit, because Bloomberg never made that clear? Nevertheless, that battle is long over and he lost on that, plus the opposition was greatly from the suburbs and outer boroughs. Speaking of congestion pricing, there have been steps to get rid of it in London, which created the very tax itself, by Mayor Boris Johnson in claiming that it is a regressive tax, and even Ken Livngstone, who first initiated it, said if he returns to the mayor's office, he will give a four year freeze on congestion pricing. Hearing that really does make it feel as if it's a failed experiment after all.
Feb. 16, 2013, 5:48 pm

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