City Council members were outraged after MTA Chairman Joe Lhota skipped a hearing Tuesday to address the city’s transit crisis.
Showing up instead was Ronnie Hakim, the agency’s managing director, who arrived to testify in front of a frustrated City Council searching for answers on how to remedy subway issues affect commuters on an almost daily basis.
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito felt the group had been snubbed. “It’s disrespectful,” she said, according to NY1. “I understand the MTA is a creature of the state and that you respond to the governor. But to make it seem that the governor is being so magnanimous and that this city is rejecting its responsibility, I’m not going to accept that.”
Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams was also peeved by the absence, stating, “If he’s going to be all over TV, carrying the governor’s water and screaming and yelling about what we’re not doing, I think he should be here.”
“As managing director of the MTA and the most recent president of New York City Transit, Ronnie Hakim has an intricate understanding of the subways, works closely with Chairman Lhota, runs MTA operations day-to-day and responded substantially to questions about improving the New York City subway system, which was the topic of the hearing,” the MTA told Metro in an email Wednesday. “The MTA is committed to being responsive and transparent with the public, and that’s exactly what happened at today’s hearing – no disrespect was intended whatsoever.”
While Lhota recently announced a transit action plan, it comes at no small fee with a price tag of $836 million, causing the city to wonder who’s footing the bill. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo continue to tussle over whether it’s the city or the MTA that’s to blame for the crisis and where the responsibility lies in fixing it.