NEW YORK CITY — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Washington D.C. Wednesday to seek federal funding for the city’s failing transport system, a month after Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the MTA and warned of a “summer of hell” for commuters.
Cuomo met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss a funding of “The Gateway Tunnel” — a new tunnel between New Jersey and New York in order to ease congestion on the interstate railways.
“The Gateway Tunnel is critical for rail traffic entering New York and the entire Northeast. It is essential that this project, which has been delayed for years, goes forward,” Cuomo said in a statement ahead of the visit.
The New York Times reported that Cuomo was also expected to discuss New York’s broader infrastructure needs and “the need for the federal government to step up and fund those projects.”
“We had a commitment with the prior federal administration under President Obama, but there’s now a new administration … and we need to know the funding is in place,” he said in D.C., according to the New York Post.
Cuomo also met with the Democratic New York congressional delegation and discussed health care and taxes, the Post reported.
Cuomo’s plea for funding comes as he faces intense scrutiny over his role in the city’s transport crisis. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the MTA in June and also warned of a “summer of hell” for the city’s commuters over scheduled track work at Pennsylvania Station — one of the city’s main transport hubs.
Straphangers have been hit by regular delays and pictures of hot, crammed subway stations filled with frustrated commuters have been a regular feature on local news shows and newspapers.
Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have sought to pass the buck about who is responsible, but it appears that Cuomo may be bearing the brunt of the city’s anger — with a recent poll suggesting his approval had plummeted by 19 points in just a few months because of the crisis.
Cuomo came under further scrutiny last week from a proposed plan, initially proposed in October, to spend approximately $200 million on installing colorful lights on bridges in order to create choreographed light displays — money that critics say could be used to fund improvements to the subway and wider transport system.
For his part, Cuomo has pledged $1 billion in extra funding for the MTA but has called on de Blasio to do more at the city level.
“New York City owns the subway and is solely responsible for funding its capital plan. Most people would call that control, and if he cares about commuters he should put his money where his mouth is,”a Cuomo spokesman told the New York Daily News last week.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY