Sal Albanese, a former City Council representative, is staging a long-shot bid for mayor from his home in Bay Ridge, and although he’s unlikely to land in City Hall come November, he’s become one of the few mayoral hopefuls to acknowledge transit issues. In an interview with a Brooklyn community paper, Albanese called for city control of the subway and bus system. “Too often, we have to go begging to the state legislature to get things done,” he said. “It’s a city service, and the mayor is the voice of the people of New York City, so it should be under mayoral control and the mayor should be accountable for it.”
Albanese said he envisions establishing a London-style system where the mayor is solely responsible for the transit system. The new city agency’s board would then be staffed with transit experts. “I wouldn’t have appointed Lhota. He’s a good administrator, but he doesn’t know anything about transit. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said of a potential GOP mayoral candidate and one-time MTA head.
City control over the Transit Authority has been a low-level concern on and off for years. It would bring local decision-making back to the city but could also absolve the state of funding commitments and more comprehensive regional planning. Whether or not Albanese is on the right track, however, is nearly immaterial as he is at least considering the issue. His opponents are not. Despite calling for middle class reform in her State of the City speech today, for instance, Christine Quinn uttered nary a word on transit. As Albanese said, “If we can’t move people around the city, properly, the economy is going to suffer.”