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MTA board delays subway station repairs after city pushback

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It’s the latest round in the seemingly futile battle between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio

In the summer of 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a round of tech-focused upgrades on over 30 subway stations across the city. At the time, the de Blasio administration dismissed it as a vanity project, and asserted that there was a greater need to focus on the subway running more efficiently than improvements like installing countdown clocks and USB ports.

On Wednesday, the de Blasio administration scored a minor victory when the MTA Board voted to delay a decision on the governor’s Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI), the New York Times reported.

For most New Yorkers however, this is just the latest chapter in a seemingly futile battle between the governor and the mayor, which hasn’t really resulted in any significant improvements to the subway since its epic meltdown in 2017, and the introduction of the $836M action plan to fix its crumbling infrastructure.

This latest battle focused on the governor’s plan to make improvements like installing Wi-Fi, better lighting, and wayfinding materials. The city however argued that the state picked stations that would have been the easiest to fix, and not necessarily the ones that needed the most repairs.

In a report prepared by the city’s Department of Transportation, which was shared with Curbed, the city had put forward its own list of 25 stations that needed improvements based on the number of riders visiting those stations; the stations picked by the state had significantly fewer riders, the city argued.

What’s more, the state’s upgrades almost entirely ignored ADA accessibility, according to this report, with 30 of the stations picked by the state having no elevators.

Earlier this week, city and state officials both held press conferences via phone where they lambasted the other side to the press. MTA Chairman Joe Lhota put out a statement saying the city didn’t want to fix the subway in any way.

In the end, the MTA Board’s decided to delay the vote on the ESI initiative until more information was made available on the plan.