MTA: We're 'playing catchup' with subway maintenance

Several New York City Council members became quite emotional when it came time to get answers from the MTA. Things got heated over the cost. Council members questioned why city taxpayers must pay more? What happened to MTA funding?

"That is unacceptable," Council Member Chiam Deustch said. "You guys only care about yourselves not about others."

"I don't' think anybody here would deny you that 2.2 percent from the taxpayers of this city if we knew that the money was going to be spent wisely," Council Member Barry Grodenchik said.

Council members unleashed a barrage of passionate critiques as they grilled MTA officials over the subway reorganization plan and the cost to make it happen.

"No guarantee you won't show up at our doorstep next year asking us for more money, " Council Member Costa Constantinides said.

After the hearing, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters that she wants to know what the MTA is doing to minimize missed deadlines and cost overruns of capital projects.

MTA officials testified that service started going downhill soon after the operating budget, which funds workers and upkeep, took a hit during the financial collapse in 2007 and 2008. Positions were cut and so was service. But ridership grew and trains kept running and things started falling apart.

"What we didn't do was increase the level of maintenance and so right now we're playing catchup," MTA President Ronnie Hakim said. "This is absolutely about stabilizing the system through good, solid maintenance practices."

All of which costs money.

"The city already does provide a lot of investment," Mark-Viverito said. "New York City residents do pay additional taxes in order to be able to provide to the MTA."

One person noticeably missing from the hearing was MTA Chairman Joe Lhota. The council invited him to attend but he did not show up.

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