Politicians boarded a city subway car Thursday for a tour of the troubled transit system, getting an earful from straphangers about the problem-plagued trains.
“This is like holding a hearing in the trains,” said City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez. “(This) provides us a great opportunity to spend 24 hours listening to the riders about their frustration, about their feedback.”
The two-day ride-a-thon began at 7 a.m. at the 168th St. station in Washington Heights, where commuters griped about the malfunctioning elevators.
Rider Anneke Van Cort, 66, said she struggled with the same problem on the A line at the 190th St. station.
“The elevators are always out,” she told city Controller Scott Stringer. “It’s detrimental because I have rheumatoid arthritis and I have to walk to 181st St.”
Working elevators at 181st St. were a roll of the dice as well, she added.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota has proposed an $ 800 million emergency overhaul of a system plagued by aging infrastructure and overcrowding. The plan includes hiring an additional 2,700 employees.
“We understand riders are frustrated — and they have every right to be — that’s why Chairman Lhota laid out an aggressive plan to take immediate action to stabilize and modernize the system,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said. “Today he also unveiled a new leadership team to implement that plan.
“Everyone is stepping up, from the state, to local elected officials, to the business community, and it’s time for City Hall to do their share in funding half this needed rescue plan,” Tarek added.
Lhota and Gov. Cuomo have been pressing Mayor de Blasio to fund half of the new cost, but he has rebuffed those requests, arguing the state has drained money from the MTA over recent years.
City Council member Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said heading down into the subways was key to fixing its problems.
“How could you really know what’s going on unless you experience it every day? This is the best way to do it,” she said.
Stringer said the city’s economy is dependent on keeping its mass transit rolling without the kind of issues afflicting the system.
“The city is built on the basis of our subway system,” Stringer said. “If we do not invest in the emergency plan right now, this will cause real economic hardship.”
The Thursday schedule included stops at a dozen stations in Manhattan and the Bronx, followed by a Friday tour of stations in Brooklyn and Queens — and a visit to the Stapleton station on the Staten Island Railway.