Finally: a New York politician actually willing to take on Big Labor to slice costs and save the subway.
GOP gubernatorial hopeful Marc Molinaro vowed to do just that Tuesday as he unveiled his report, “Back on Track,” which outlines his plan to fix the transit system.
“We cannot only rely on revenue,” he warned. “We have to confront the costs” — including “the high cost of labor.”
Bingo. Rather than just squeeze more and more cash from hard-pressed New Yorkers, Molinaro pledged to rein in the subway’s “astronomical” outlays. Projects like the 2nd Avenue Subway, he notes, shouldn’t cost seven times as much as similar jobs elsewhere, as it does now. Nor should personnel be as much as three to four times as expensive.
The report cites Nicole Gelinas’ 2017 finding that over the past 12 years the system’s operating costs soared 53 percent above inflation. Yet service fizzled under Gov. Cuomo: On-time performance plunged from 85.4 percent in 2011 to just 58.1 percent now, as much as 33 points worse than in cities like Boston, Washington and Chicago.
New Yorkers pay “far too much” and get “far too little,” Molinaro rightly notes. He’s also right about why: The MTA’s in “a death spiral,” thanks to a “failure of leadership” and financial irresponsibility.
Cuomo, he says, has been “more interested in vanity projects” than improving the system. And in looking to screw the city as part of his war with Mayor de Blasio.
Molinaro’s plan is full of promising reforms: He backs TA President Andy Byford’s “Fast Forward” initiative, but he would shrink costs by targeting labor abuses — featherbedding, prevailing-wage laws and perverse work rules. He’d also curb overtime and trim health-care costs.
To fix the contracting process, he’d push for more competition among vendors and streamline environmental reviews.
None of these steps would be easy to take, given Big Labor’s power. But unlike Cuomo, Molinaro promises to “own” the MTA’s problems. And he’s ready to tell the truth about just what those problems are.
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