NYC Council Speaker and 2013 Democratic Primary Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn may not need the assistance of Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to regain control of municipal public transportation currently run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The answer may be found filed away in the dusty municipal files located in the City’s Corporation Counsel Office. In 1953, the old NYC Board of Transportation passed on control of the municipal subway system, including all its assets, to the newly created New York City Transit Authority. Under late Governor Rockefeller in the 60s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was created. The governor appoints four board members. Likewise, the mayor four more and the rest by suburban county executives.
No one elected official controlled a majority of the votes. As a result, elected officials have historically taken credit when the MTA or any operating subsidiary such as NYCT would do a good job. When operational problems occurred or fare increases were needed — everyone could put up their hands. Don’t blame me, I’m only a minority within the Board. Decade after decade, NYC mayors, comptrollers, public advocates, city council presidents, borough presidents and city council members would all play the same sad song — if only we had majority control of the Board – things would be different.
Quinn has forgotten that buried within the 1953 master agreement between the city and NYCT is an escape clause. NYC has the legal right at any time to take back control of its assets which includes the subway and bus system.
Actions speak louder than words. Does Quinn believe she could do a better job running the nation’s largest subway and bus system and avoid any future fare increases? If so, as mayor would Quinn take back legal control of both the subway and bus system? If not, who would she appoint to the MTA Board?