Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

Cuomo Declares State of Emergency for NYC’s Troubled Subways

  • Parts of the system were damaged by floods during Sandy
  • Delays and derailments gave rise to Cuomo’s need to act

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in the city’s subway system and called for a surge of spending on improvements, days after a derailment injured 39 passengers and forced the evacuation of hundreds from the disabled train.

The governor’s declaration of emergency Thursday gives Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota 30 days to devise a reorganization plan and two months to find a way to spend an additional $1 billion on needed work. Eased procurement rules will speed hiring of contractors to make repairs, Cuomo said.

“We need new ideas and new approaches and new products, new technology, and we are open to it,” the governor told an MTA-sponsored conference in Manhattan. “Design an organization that performs the function rather than the organization that exists today, which is just a long-standing bureaucracy that has evolved over time.”

The derailment Tuesday morning near 125th Street in Harlem shut down service for hours on a system that’s been bedeviled for months by delays, due in part to deferred maintenance and the use of obsolete equipment.

Cuomo, who has ultimate control over the state-run MTA, last month predicted a “Summer of Hell” for commuters as train service into Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station will be cut back while Amtrak makes repairs. The terminus for hundreds of thousands of daily passengers from Long Island and New Jersey has been the site of two derailments in recent months.

Part of the subway is more than 100 years old, and some cars are still in operation after more than 50 years. Hurricane Sandy flooded some stations and tracks in 2012, causing corrosion to electrical systems.

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