One of the central policies of Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign has been the takeover of the city’s subway system.
But transit experts balk at the idea the MTA should be controlled by the mayor’s office, which could make bond offerings a bit more complicated.
Yang asserted that “you could retain the current financing structure and have city control if you just increase the number of city recommended board members.” Changing board composition is not typically considered the same as a municipal takeover, which would entail financial oversight by the city.
The MTA relies on a mix of state taxes, tolls and farebox revenue to pay for operations. Bridges and tunnels are far more lucrative than farebox revenue, which has fallen dramatically due to a decrease in public transit ridership during the pandemic. That makes controlling bridges and tunnels something of a necessity to finance a city takeover — a tough sell to make to Albany lawmakers.
While an argument could be made for giving the city control of the taxes paid for by city residents to fund the system, that’s also unlikely to pass muster on the state level. Then there’s the thorny process of untangling existing transit bonding from the MTA, which issues bonds for major capital projects.