Members of the public transit advocacy group Riders Alliance brought a life-size cardboard cutout of Governor Cuomo into the Times Square subway station during rush hour last night, after the living, breathing Governor declined multiple invitations to take a ride during peak commuting hours.
The Alliance first extended their invitation back in April, and then again towards the end of the legislative session in June, when upstate press conferences about escaped convicts were taking precedent over lesser New York City-centric issues like tenant rights and the MTA's yawning $14 billion deficit.
"We've been asking the governor to take the train with us, because we think if he took the train every single morning during rush hour, he would immediately fund the MTA Capital Plan," said Alliance member Jess Nizar.
Albany's legislative session ended last month without addressing the MTA's budget, and it looks like no action will be taken until a special session later this year. Gene Russianoff from the Straphangers Campaign told the NY Times in June that Governor Cuomo has shown a “shocking indifference” to the MTA's enormous budget deficit. "This is so important to the future of the state and the city that his disaffection from the issue is mind-boggling."
Last night, Cuomo's cardboard likeness got a taste of the 7 train, between Times Square and Court Square. "You need to stop raising up the prices on the train, man!" said one frustrated straphanger, flicking him in the chest with a pamphlet.
"Some riders were yelling and screaming at him saying his fares are too high," said Campaign Manager Rebecca Bailin, who encouraged commuters to fill in signs emblazoned with the phrase, "Where do you want to see 'Cardboard-Cutout-Cuomo' Ride?" (Example: L Train at 8:20 a.m.)
But while frustrated commuters had plenty to say for the camera about fare prices, delays, and overcrowding, Bailin admitted that many of them hadn't been aware, before yesterday's action, that Cuomo even had control over the MTA's funding. "We noticed that a lot of people don't realize who's in charge of the MTA," she said. "They think that it's independent. They don't realize that Cuomo is holding the purse strings, and holding them pretty tightly."
Starting today, the Alliance will also start Instagraming Cardboard Cuomo smushed into the sweatiest, most crowded, most frequently stalled corners of the subway. We look forward to seeing Cardboard Cuomo posing with plenty of snakes and used condoms.