July 27, 2017
Albany, NY

Video, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks at the Association for a Better New York Breakfast

TOP Video, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor...

Public Service Commission Chair Demands that Con Edison Improve Subway Reliability and Prevent Future Service Failures 

Governor Launches New Public-Private Partnership to Encourage Corporations to Invest in New York City Subway System


Earlier today, Governor Cuomo delivered remarks at the Association for a Better New York's breakfast in New York City. While there, he announced that the Public Service Commission Chair John Rhodes is demanding that Con Edison take significant and immediate actions to improve the subway's reliability and prevent future service failures. This action follows the PSC and MTA's investigation into Con Edison's equipment failure that led to significant delays across the subway system. As the investigation continues, PSC's Chair, John Rhodes declared that Con Edison must analyze existing equipment failures, perform thorough and regular inspections and dedicate additional personnel and equipment to improve service. Con Edison must dedicate and assign a Crisis Response Team for the subway system and track performance through monthly reports to the PSC.

The Governor also announced the first-of-its-kind public-private Subway Partnership Program in New York, in which private corporations will invest in a fund to support the New York City subway system and work closely with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on issues affecting commuters.

Additionally, the Governor announced significant milestones in major downstate infrastructure priority projects. At the Association for a Better New York breakfast, the Governor announced that the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will open on August 25th. The Governor also announced that the Federal Aviation Administration approved the $4 billion, 37 gate Delta facility at LaGuardia Airport, the final component of the transformation of LaGuardia into a completely rebuilt, unified 21st century airport, and the U.S. Department of Transportation approved a more than $500 million loan for the Moynihan Train Hall redevelopment. Governor Cuomo also announced that cashless tolling will be complete on all MTA bridges and tunnels by the end of 2017, already having reduced commuters' travel time by up to nine hours since January.

More information is available here.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264 format) here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below.

Thank you. Thank you very much. It's my pleasure to be back at ABNY, especially with my good friend Bill Rudin, let's give him a round of applause. Bill is a great asset for all of the state, as is his entire family. So it's a pleasure to be with him. He's acknowledged a few people, but pardon me if I reiterate some of the acknowledgements. 

Joe Lhota who came back, he still has his day job and is serving as the chairman of the MTA, it is really a phenomenal personal sacrifice and a great public service.Let's give them another round of applause. We have with us John Samuelsen who's the head of the TWU, or the hardworking men and women of the system.We have a great labor leader, Hector Figueroa, who is our partner in the airports, it's a pleasure to be here with him. A labor leader who in many ways started the modern progressive labor movement, Dennis Rivera. Pleasure to be with Dennis.And public advocate Tish James. Where are you Tish? Good to see you. And our comptroller who makes sure we're all under Comp-trol. Mr. Stringer, thank you very much.

As Bill said, the conversation this morning's going to be about infrastructure and where we are and what we're doing and what's next. In many ways we believe the state is on the move. It's early in the morning so I'm going to start with a quiz. Who said, "if you build it, they will come?" Here's a hint. No answers. Lew Rudin said it.The hint was a trap and you all went for it. Lew Rudin said it. Maybe not in so many words, but he said it by the example that he set. Nelson Rockefeller said it, Robert Moses said it, Fiorello LaGuardia said it, Mario Cuomo said it, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it. The state of New York says it by its presence. The state is the state because we built it that way. This was not natural evolution my friends. This is a constructed environment and what made New York, New York was the daring and the ambition and the drive of New Yorkers. That's who we are. That's where we came from. That's our legacy, which is to lead. We started building the New York State Thruway before President Eisenhower started building the federal interstate system. We refused to give up in the middle of the Great Depression. We set out to build the tallest building in the world. They say it's impossible. It only wets our appetite to get it done. Tallest bridge after tallest bridge. Subway system construction that they said was impossible.

And we drove the development. We were ahead of the development. This is a picture of the seven line going out to Queens. When they built it, there was nothing around. You would say to yourself, "why are you building a line out there if there are no people?" But they had the foresight to know that if you build it, they will come. That is a New York story.

Long Island Railroad built out through the potato fields. But now Long Island is a phenomenal success. The secret formula was economic development follows transportation and infrastructure. That's the formula, and that's what we knew in New York. Now, for the past 50 years, somewhere along the way we lost that spirit. We lost our confidence. We lost our mojo. Ask yourself, what was the last great project that we built in this state? Ask yourself what was the last great project we built in the United States of America? And while we stood still, the rest of the world has been growing and has been building and you can see that were now suffering the consequences of our inaction. You look at the traffic on our roads. We have some of the worst congestion in the United States of America.You look at our airports, they're crowded, they're uncomfortable. And they're second-rate, if not third-rate.

Now, as a society, we recognized the problem. Democrats and Republicans. Vice President Joe Biden has been talking about infrastructure for a long, long time. President Trump, main platform in his campaign was about the infrastructure and putting Americans back to work. Great. Lot of talk, but nothing is happening.Except, my friends, in New York State. We have launched the largest rebuilding program in the United States of America, a $100 billion program. And this is not normal government. We're not talking about it, were not planning about it, were not having committee meetings about it, were not considering it, were not analyzing it, we are actually doing it, and were doing it fast, and we are doing it right. We're building a new airport at LaGuardia, I'm pleased to announce that last week we've received he final approval from the FAA. The last phase is complete.Delta's going to break ground in the next two weeks to begin construction on a four billion, 37 gate facility. LaGuardia is going to be the first new airport in this country in 25 years. Just think about it.

After 20 years of talking about the Moynihan train hall, at Penn Farley, 20 years we endured the indignity of Penn Station, and the decay of Penn Station. When for 20 years, we had the proposal on the table to build a train hall right across the street. But it just sat there. And we have plans for a magnificent 250,000 square foot transit hub, bigger than the Grand Central terminal main course. Seventy-thousand square feet of balcony level, world class dining, shopping, an indoor retail facility being developed by Related and Vornado. And I'm pleased to announce that US DOT just approved a 500 million dollar what they call TIFIA loan, and construction is now underway and Moynihan train hall is going to be a reality and construction has started. 

Today we're announcing that cashless tolling on the MTA bridges and tunnels has been accelerated and will be complete by the end of the year. Commuters' travel time has already been reduced by nine hours of drive time since January. Just think about that. And that was long overdue. First span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is open to traffic this spring. And yesterday we lowered the main deck of the old bridge, put it on a barge, floated it away, goodbye, we're not going to miss you. And we're starting the second span construction now. JFK, we just issued the RFP for a master planner who will design the future of a $10 billion global hub of the modern age that will be the most sophisticated airport, international airport on the globe when we are finished. We're going to take it from one of the worst, to the best. And that process is underway. Jacob Javits Convention Center is now under construction. We're adding 1.5 million square feet, proposal was 20 years ago, it increases the meeting space fivefold. Creates the largest ballroom in the northeast. Just hope your daughter doesn't want to get married there. And the largest rooftop solar array of its kind. That's under construction.

And on Long Island, which for 70 years was talking about updating the Long Island Railroad, because in many place the long island railroad is just one track, and you know when you hear those morning reports on the radio where they say the track, there is a problem on the track on the Long Island Railroad? They mean that literally. It's a track. And a squirrel dies on the track and now you have a problem. For 70 years they've been talking about updating the Long Island Railroad, we're now doing it. New second track, new third track, new switches, new signals, 39 rehabilitated stations, better rails, smoother ride, and just last week, the state legislature [inaudible], and that's underway also. And it's not just downstate New York. Upstate New York we're investing and building a new state fairground outside of Syracuse, a new airport in Elmira Corning which is underway, a new airport in Rochester which is underway, a new airport in Syracuse which is underway, a new airport in Plattsburgh which is underway, new train station in Rochester which is underway, new train station in Schenectady that is finished. So we've proven that we can do it right?


Cynicism, what our opponents sell is cynicism of government and skepticism; no you can't, no you can't, no you can't. And for many years government didn't live up to the task right? Even if it had the right intent, it didn't have the capacity to actually make it happen, it didn't have the competence to make it happen. Well that has changed, we can do these things. The skeptics, the cynics, the naysayers were wrong and we have proven them wrong. We're doing it, we're doing it right and we're doing it fast and the proof is in the pudding. 


Next priority is twofold, first the New York City subway system and second the Gateway Tunnel as Bill mentioned. New York City subways you know the story well, it's vital to our economy, it moves 11 million riders, the MTA across 12 counties. New York City on its own has the highest rate of public transit use used 54 percent. One third of the nation's total mass transit riders are in New York City. Today, the city is growing, neighborhoods are flourishing, it's amazing how so many neighborhoods are coming back that were in such disrepair just a few decades ago and that's all great news. 


The bad news is its placed tremendous demands on the subway system and when you put together aging infrastructure and some of these subway cars are 30, 40 years old, the signal system, 50, 60 years old. The system has been underfunded for decades and then on top of that you add this tremendous new volume; you have the problem that we have now. June 21 Joe Lhota came in as new chair of the MTA, we declared a state of emergency and Joe's task was to come up with an MTA transformation plan which he delivered last week ahead of schedule. The plan basically has two phases. Number one is to stabilize the system and then to modernize it. Phase one targets individual components that make up about 79 percent of the delays. They fall in five critical areas, track and signal maintenance, car reliability, safety and cleanliness of the system, customer communication and management. 


Long term we need a new way to think about the system, new technology, new signals. We need Wi-Fi in the system. Right now it takes four to five years to get a new subway car, there has to be a better way. We just had a GENIUS conference where we brought in the best minds from all across the globe. All the providers, all the vendors, all the engineers to look at our system and get the best ideas and the MTA is going through them now. So progress is on the way. But real progress will require not just the MTA, but the partners of the MTA. The MTA does not exist in a vacuum. The MTA needs the NYPD to be enforcing the laws in the subway system and be present. Public safety is important. The quality of life crimes are important. Littering, well that's just a nuisance. No, littering starts fires on the track and it is dangerous and we need the NYPD to step up and do that role. Fire department, New York State DOT etc. So there are many factors that come into play for the MTA to function well and it can't solve its problems by itself. The most important partner to the MTA is the power provider and this is often overlooked. 


When you we're a kid and you had a train set you had to plug it in. We have to plug in the MTA every morning and the MTA does not control the power supply to the MTA. Over the last 12 months, 32,000 delays because of power related issues and they can either be a power surge or power shortage, but 32,000 delays. The MTA doesn't control the power, Con Edison does. Con Edison has a duty to safely, prudently and effectively provide electricity that powers the subway system. Con Ed is a regulated utility under the state's Public Service Commission. April 21 after the last outage I ordered an investigation of the Con Ed infrastructure after a particularly devastating failure. The investigation goes on but PSC has already found that Con Ed must make immediate and significant improvements in this system because the reliability depends on it. 


Con Ed is going to be required to inspect and repair all supply lines that come in from the manholes to the system, all the interlocking's, all the station equipment, all the high voltage sub stations. They'll be installing new sensor and monitoring equipment which will alert them to problems before it happens. If there are problems, Con Ed is going to have to be in a position where they can get an emergency generator to any station in the city and hook it up within 30 minutes. That is part of the service that they're going to have to provide. Con Ed will also be imbedded in the MTA so there will be no more finger pointing and back and forth and no more delays in communication between the two. 


The public service commission set a specific time table for the corrective action plan. Most of it will be completed by the end of this year so they're on a very aggressive timeline. PSC is staying on top of the implementation of the plan and any violations of the plan will be fined by the Public Service Commission. The partnership for New York City says that if subways are delayed, they estimate the cost at $15 million per hour. That's how important this system is. I want to thank John Rhodes who's here today with the Public Service Commission, let's give him a round of applause because the PSC has really stepped up to the plate on this one and I want to thank Con Ed for their cooperation in this venture. 


Reliable powers have been stepped forward but we need to do more because it's going to take all of us. We need to get private businesses involved in the MTA which they haven't been thus far. We need to get more citizen participation in the MTA and we have to change our attitude. This is our MTA, right? This is our transit system. We are all in this together right? Six million people taking your transit system, there has to be an air of civic engagement and participation and investment in this system. 


We're going to start a subway partnership program, first public-private partnership of its kind to help generate a better customer experience. Through this program we're giving private sector partners an opportunity to play a part in bringing our subway system into the modern age. We've done this in the parks system, it worked. We've done it with historic properties, it worked. Now we should do it with the subway system. Businesses and civic organizations can become members of a partnership council by contributing $250,000. They'll work to improve and enhance the stations themselves by the funds that they raise. Companies have already signed on and we thank them for their partnership and their leadership. 


We'll also have an Adopt a Station program where by contributing additional funds, determined by the size of the station and traffic of the station, for a total contributions 600,000 dollars, the business can enhance those stations, enhance the maintenance, enhance security, enhance aesthetics. There could be art in the stations. Many of our stations already do have art. What we did with the new 2nd Ave subway, but we can do more and we want bring the private sector in as full partner in doing this. We also want bring citizens in in a way they haven't been involved before. Because civic engagement is part of this. And citizens have a role, keep it clean, keep it safe, be courteous. There was more of an air of civility on the subway on time. I know we are going through a tough time, I know those trains are crowded, I know it's hard, but let's remember we're all in this together and we're all New Yorkers. And let's each citizen be part of the solution, as we're going through this transformation. 


Our next priority is the Gateway Project. As you heard it is probably the most critical infrastructure project on the east coast. It's the tunnels that go from Jersey to New York but they bring all the rail that goes to the Northeast. 17 percent of the entire country population, 22 percent of the nation's GDP. Okay. And goes through two tunnels that are under the Hudson River. The two tunnels that are under the Hudson River are old and have been damaged by Hurricane Sandy. And no engineer wants to tell you how long they will remain reliable, but if those tunnels go down it will be catastrophic. 


The Gateway Tunnel Project says we'll build two new tunnels and then go back and rehabilitate the existing two so we'll have four tunnels. It's actually an exciting project besides doing the tunnels, it will then connect to Penn Station, expand Penn Station, improve Penn Station, which will then be right across the street from our new Moynihan Train Hall, which will be spectacular, which is basically next door to the Hudson Yards. So, this would be an infusion in the west side and the synergy with the Hudson Yards that would be really exciting. It has to happen. And it has to happen soon. 


We know what we have to do. We know we have vison, we have the plan, we have the leadership, we have the ability. We need one more thing. It's called the resources. Gateway funding is $20 billion. We need a shared commitment between the federal government and the state government to do the Gateway program. New York State has stepped up and we have committed $5 billion to Gateway and I am proud of it and I think it is a fair investment for the state to make. But we need President Trump to fulfill the federal commitment to make Gateway a reality. We cannot do it on our own and President Trump was right. He was right during the campaign when he said the need is infrastructure, that we are failing behind, when he talked about putting people to work with those infrastructure jobs. And remember the one trillion dollar infrastructure proposal that he spoke about? One trillion dollars. Where is it? What happened to it? It was the single best idea that I heard come from his campaign and now it's disappeared. We can't lose it. We can't especially can't lose the Gateway Project. There is no other way for it to happen without federal participation. And my friends, it must happen. It's a very simple concept. You have an old tunnel that is damaged that will collapse at one point and when it collapses you'll see a collapse of the Northeast economy. 


On the New York City subway system, the question is again, resources. New York State has invested heavily in the MTA. We have made historic investments in the MTA. I've invested more money in the MTA than any other governor in modern political history and I am proud of it. We right now have as a capital plan, $8 billion from the state, $2.5 billion from the city, there is an operating fund annual operating fund, we contribute $5 billion. New York City contributes $1.8 billion. The cost of the first phase of the New York City subway transformation is $836 million. How do you split the cost? The MTA plan suggested 50/50, Solomon-like. Left out that the state had already contributed much more but I understand, Solomon. 


New York State commits itself to fund 50 percent of the plan. Why? Because it's smart. Mass-transit is the city's circulatory system. You slow down the subway system, you slow down the blood flow in this city. That's why it's smart. Its fair, it's right, and at the same time we are not going to wait for additional promises. I want Mr. Lhota and Mr. Samuelsen to know, today I am making the state's funds available to begin the transformation of the MTA. Our partners should do the same. There is no time for delay and there is no tolerance for a lack of commitment on this issue. To me, this is black and white, New Yorkers need help and they need it now. The fundamental responsibility of government is to respond in a timely and effective when people need help. And the current MTA situation is a crisis. And that's why we're going to get to work today because subway riders are suffering and subway riders are the hardworking men and women, who are the back bone of this city. There are doing all the tough jobs that working around the clock, subways at night now are busier than they have been before. People are working two jobs, three jobs, just to make ends meet. And ultimately indignity to then be put on a subway that makes you late or is delayed or is inconvenient. They deserve all of us to step up and to make a difference. 


Also, it's smart because if we do not improve the subway system, at one point it will actually hurt the city's economy. We have to approve the subway system because as you've heard in the presentation, New York State is all about moving forward. New York State is all about leadership. New York State is all about getting things done. And New York State is not going to go backwards because we didn't step up to the plate and fund the repairs of the subway system. And because we are New Yorkers, and that means something, and that says something, we are unique breed of people. It's who we are, it's what we do, it's where we came from. We are born of daring and talent and ambition. That is what is in our genes. That is the energy and culture of this city. That's what you feel when you're walking down the street. That's the intensity that people talk about. Wow New York! What an energy! They're right! We are special. We did do things that nobody believed we could do. We continue things that nobody believes we can do. 


Because we do stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us. And we learn from them. And we carry forward their legacy. And at the end of the day, my friends, it's very, very simple. We have a certain period of time on this earth and what the good book tell all of us, is use your time to make this place a better place. Native American proverb, we didn't inherit the earth from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children. We need to leave this state better than we found it. And we're going to leave her safer, sweeter, kinder, cleanlier, more secure, than she's ever been before. That's our vow as citizens, as parents. That's our promise to our children. We are on the road to making it happen. Let's not stop now. God bless you!

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office