Attention, riders: there’s a new sheriff in town — and he’s gunning for the mismanaged MTA!
With Democrats about to take power in the state Senate, the incoming chairman of the committee with oversight of the embattled transit agency is vowing to hold public hearings on the sorry state of the city’s subway system.
Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) told The Post that he plans to summon top MTA officials — including NYC Transit chief Andy Byford — to testify before the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions about their failure to smooth the ride for long-suffering strap-hangers.
“The committee was not active in looking at the MTA. We will be now,” Comrie said.
“There will be accountability. We have to make sure our transit system gets back to a condition to where we have increased ridership.”
Comrie, who said the MTA has “neglected” passengers, pledged to examine the bungling that led to massive cost overruns on the Second Avenue subway and long delays in federally mandated safety improvements, including “positive train control” technology to prevent crashes.
He also said that Gov. Cuomo — who critics have accused of passing the buck when it comes to the subways — would no longer get a free pass.
“We will have an active working relationship with the governor. But there will be checks and balances — definitely,” Comrie said.
The incoming head of the Investigations and Government Operations Committee said he was also considering holding hearings “before we shovel billions more dollars into the MTA.”
“Subway service has gotten worse. That’s indisputable,” said Senator-elect James Skoufis (D-Orange County).
“We have one of the least reliable, slowest and dirtiest transit systems in the world.”
Government watchdog John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany welcomed a crackdown on the MTA, saying state lawmakers were asleep at the switch for years as the subways deteriorated.
“This is a great sign. This is a positive development,” Kaehny said.
“The legislature was completely nowhere while bus and subway service fell apart. They failed miserably.”
Comrie also promised to examine problems at the Port Authority and Thruway Authority, including complaints about cashless tolling and redevelopments projects at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports in his home borough.
Other incoming Senate committee heads are also pledging to take action when Republicans relinquish control of the chamber next year.
Senator-elect Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan), who will chair the Cities Committee, said he’s intent on “making Albany responsive to cities’ needs and addressing important issues including education, housing and transit.”
Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi, a first-time candidate who ousted turncoat Democrat and accused sex harasser Jeff Klein, is the incoming chairwoman of the Ethics Committee.
She said her top priorities included strengthening the Senate’s rules for investigating harassment claims.
Cuomo spokesman Patrick Muncie said: “Governor Cuomo has taken aggressive action to fix the subway, including an historic $8 billion state capital commitment and securing full funding for the subway action plan. The Governor looks forward to working with the Legislature to pass full congestion pricing this year.”
An MTA spokesperson said: “While action plans and initiatives for all MTA agencies have brought improvements for New Yorkers, the new leadership at the MTA and all of its agencies recognize the need for significant reform and are steadfastly committed to achieving that by improving service, busting MTA bureaucracy, and better meeting the critical needs of the region. We look forward to meeting with legislative leaders to discuss our reform agenda and the need for sustainable funding.”
Additional reporting by Bruce Golding
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