MTA Acting Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber appeared live on FOX 5 Good Day New York with Raegan Medgie and Steve Lacy to discuss the impact of Hurricane Ida on the MTA’s service region.
A transcript of the interview appears below.
Steve Lacy: The heavy rain, resulting flooding, putting a massive strain on the entire subway system.
Raegan Medgie: And joining us now is the Acting Chair and CEO of the MTA, Janno Lieber. Janno, good morning. So, we'll get right to it, when people are heading out the door to commute on subways, and even the buses, what should people know right now?
Janno Lieber: Well Raegan, as you have been reporting, the storm did a number on all of our infrastructure in the region, mass transit was no exception. So, we're bringing the subway system back online, there's a lot--there's growing service on the lettered line, the train, the train and the train and many others. The numbered lines are still mostly very, very limited service. But the subway system is coming back. We obviously had to get the water received to pump it out and then deal with the electrical infrastructure. Water and power don't mix.
Lacy: I mean we’re looking at what, dozens and dozens of subway stations were flooded last night. The video we're looking at right now is just incredible.
Lieber: Yeah. Well we all know that the subway system in New York is not a submarine. It's pretty, you know, shallow, shallow below the surface. In many cases it's actually-- in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, it's above ground and an open cut. So, we definitely are subject to weather and water, especially when like last night the surface level, street level, drainage and sewer system is overwhelmed. So that's what keeps happening in these flash floods, last night was the worst of all, and that water obviously makes his way down into the system. But the amazing thing is that we are restoring service and the bus drivers last night, I got to tell you Steve, were heroic. They got people home, they kept going, diverting around all those abandoned cars, and they really were as I said heroes. So, the system is coming back. Commuter rail however, Metro-North is basically out of business today. Long Island Rail Road, limited service, some of it coming back like the Atlantic Branch, but people should be very careful and look to MTA.info before any decisions about whether to travel.
Medgie: Do you think people should more so take buses instead of the subway for now? But the buses, like you said, have to dodge around the cars so they, people need to get to work, what's the best way of doing so at this point?
Lieber: Again, I would point them to that MTA.info website which has most current information. But yeah if you can, if you have access to buses, that's probably the best system right now because subway service as I said, depending on where you are is pretty limited.
Lacy: And, you know, we’ve only got 30 seconds left here, but I mean obviously we hear a lot about the subway modernization plan, the need for the money to update the subway system. In that plan, obviously, are there steps that would prevent issues like we're dealing with today? Because, I mean we keep having these once-in-a-lifetime storms every other year it seems.
Lieber: It's a good point Steve. We've done a ton on coastal resiliency. So all those areas that were hit by Superstorm Sandy, the under-river tunnels, they've been made much more resilient and impervious to storms. But what we're seeing now is these repetitive flash floods which are at higher ground, and as I said, the street level drainage system gets overwhelmed and then the water gets into the subway in mass quantities. So we are, we're going to expand the resiliency efforts to look at these higher ground areas, higher elevation areas, in tandem with the City of New York which operates the street level drainage and sewer system. We have to attack that now in this era of climate change.
Lacy: All right. Yeah.
Medgie: Thank you so much Janno, we appreciate. Acting Chair and CEO of the MTA, Janno Lieber for the update this morning. I'm sure you have a busy day ahead.