Bay Ridge

Brannan: Give city control over transit system

May 31, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Council candidate Justin Brannan has made transit issues a centerpiece of his campaign. Photo courtesy of the Brannan campaign

Council candidate says MTA offers poor service

The chances of it happening are probably slim, but a City Council candidate from Bay Ridge is proposing that control over the running of the buses and subways be handed over to New York City.

Democrat Justin Brannan, who is running for council in the 43rd District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst), said New York state should give the city more of a say in the transit system.

“Fifty years of state control of the MTA has given us nothing but poor service, political pet projects and upstate lawmakers making decisions about a transportation network they’ve never even set foot in,” Brannan said in a statement. “New York lives and dies by its transportation network, and yet we don’t have the power to make significant decisions about how funds are allocated or where new train lines are built. It’s time we undo this decades-old political decision and right a wrong affecting millions of New Yorkers.” 

The move is seen as highly unlikely, given that it would require state legislation to make it happen.

Brannan has made transit issues a focal point of his council campaign. He has been outspoken over what he said is the poor service on the R subway line in Bay Ridge.

In a white paper, Brannan outlined his proposal to give the city control over the transit system.

Brannan noted in his report that prior to MTA’s creation in 1968, local transportation services were controlled by a variety of city and state-managed agencies, including the current MTA Bus Company and MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), which were city managed from 1953 to 1968.

Under Brannan’s proposal, the structure of funding transit services through tax dollars, toll revenues from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and bond issuance would be kept in place.

To help bolster his argument, Brannan said he would push for a resolution to be adopted in the City Council if he is elected.

His call for a complete overhaul in the transportation power structure comes at a time when service disruptions on subway and commuter rails lines are becoming frequent occurrences.

In recent weeks, riders have endured electrical outages and switch malfunctions at DeKalb Avenue, which brought service to a halt on several subway lines, as well as track problems at Penn Station.

In Bay Ridge, repairs have forced the closures of three stations along the R subway line (Bay Ridge Avenue, 53rd Street and Prospect Avenue), causing major headaches for riders.

Earlier this month, MTA released a six-point plan to address the problems.

MTA officials said their plan focuses on solving the key causes of subway delays: track and signal issues; sick passengers and police activity; subway car equipment failures; loading and unloading in stations; and bottlenecks that occur at points where train lines merge.

MTA is expediting the delivery of 300 new subway cars with the first arriving this fall, officials said. The agency will also conduct a top-to-bottom revamp of its car maintenance procedures. Track and signal repairs are also part of the picture.

To speed up the process of boarding trains, the MTA is testing different ways for staff to better communicate to passengers the locations of less crowded cars on arriving trains.

But to Brannan, the best solution would be city control of transit services. “Restoring local control of our transit system is the kind of bold action we need,” he said.

Brannan is one of four Democrats running for the council seat. Kevin Peter Carroll, the Rev. Khader El-Yateem and Nancy Tong are also running in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 12.

The winner of the Democratic Primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary in the Nov. 7 general election. The GOP candidates are Bob Capano, Liam McCabe and John Quaglione.