The head of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) denies a recent New York Daily News report that said the agency inflated subway delay numbers in order to blame a local power company, The New York Observer reports.
Joe Lhota, chairman of the MTA, told the Observer newspaper that he “believes” the agency’s reported numbers. He further explained that the agency never tried to exaggerate the number of power-related delays on the city’s subway system to make them seem higher than they actually were.
In August of last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the subway system had nearly 32,000 power-related delays over the course of an entire year, many during a 2017 season that some New Yorkers dubbed “The Summer of Hell”. But earlier this month, the Daily News ran a report that said those numbers were actually inflated.
Citing internal MTA emails which the Daily News had obtained, the newspaper reported that New York City Transit had redefined the definition for power-related delays, thereby increasing the number. Kyle Kirschling, a senior performance analyst for the subway system, told the Daily News that the actual number of power-related delays was more in the range of 8,000 — significantly lower than the 32,000 suggested by the governor in August.
In the obtained emails, a former press aide to Gov. Cuomo reportedly asked transit officials for ways they could “massage that language” to make the higher number seem like the actual number of power-related delays.
Various media report that Cuomo used the 32,000 figure in a way that forced power company Con Edison to inspect and repair New York City subway power equipment in response to MTA chairman Lhota’s announcement of a $830 million subway improvement plan in July.
Lhota, though, disputes that claim. He told the Observer that since “working together” with Con Edison, the number of power-related delays has decreased and “the electricity has improved”. He insists that the improvement plan is working but denies any role inflated numbers may have played in the process.
On Monday, the Daily News also reported that New York City Transit’s president, Andy Byford, said he was “unsure” of whether or not he could trust the agency’s analysts to give him reliable data regarding system performance. Byford, who began his job with Transit on Jan. 16, said it was “too early to form an opinion” on the matter.