It takes a fresh approach to solve a stale problem. For more than a year, as the subway and bus system fell apart, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio blamed each other. Last week, they hurriedly made an agreement that makes responsibility even more obscure. Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson strolled into this dysfunctional arrangement and said: I’ll take care of this.
Johnson proposed something so obvious, that no one else has seriously suggested it: The city should run its own transit system, with voters seeing clearly who’s in charge.
Most council speakers (and mayors) use their “state of the city” speeches to try to please every last constituency, and drone on and on. Johnson got right to the point. “You want a tax base that supports cops and firefighters, schools and public libraries?” he said. “None of that is possible unless you have an economy that’s thriving. And our economy lives and dies on how we move people around. So if we want to survive, we’ve got to get this right . . . Our transit system literally built New York City.”
Contrast these stark words to de Blasio’s comment last week. In his sixth year in office, he apparently figured out that the subway is kind of important: “What I gleaned” from a subway ride “is people really depend on their subways,” he said — and then promptly heaved his own citizenry’s problems on to the governor: “I would rather have one person in charge. It clearly should be the governor.”
Johnson asks the question people don’t ask often enough: Why?