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Activists Tell Frustrated Subway Riders to Direct MTA Complaints to Cuomo

Danny Pearlstein (left), and Rebecca Bailin, members of the Riders Alliance handing out action kits in Queensboro Plaza. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Dec. 4, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez

LONG ISLAND CITY — Members of a transit advocacy group took to Queensboro Plaza Friday to give out “Subway Delay Action Kits” to straphangers, urging them to tweet Governor Cuomo to fix the subways and sign a petition soon-to-be heading his way.

The kits, created by the Riders Alliance, the grassroots group founded in 2012, are reminiscent of the “Emergency Instructions” plastered on trains across the subway system, but come with information on the crumbling MTA and tips on converting related frustrations to action.

The Subway Delay Action Kit (Riders Alliance)

“New Yorkers lost 35,000 hours last year in the AM rush due to subway delays,” reads one side of the card. “Do something with that time: Flip over & take action!”

Governor Cuomo’s twitter handle, along with suggested hashtags like #CuomosMTA and #FixTheSubway, are included on the cards, aimed at encouraging riders to tweet to the governor whenever they’re stuck.

The group’s stop in Queens marks the first effort to bring this campaign to other boroughs, which was introduced just last week to riders at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. “It’s a central hub,” said Rebecca Bailin, a campaign manager for Riders Alliance for the past five years, referring to Queensboro Plaza. “People come from Brooklyn and Flushing just to ride at this station.”

Bailin and her colleague, Danny Pearlstein, amassed several dozen signatures in just under an hour while at the station. In talking to riders, Bailin and Pearlstein emphasize that Albany has the sole power to fund and fix the subway. “The person whose responsible, actually, is Governor Cuomo,” Ballin said to a woman who signed the petition as she waited for her train.

“I think one reason it’s been allowed to fall apart is because people don’t know who to point the finger to,” Pearlstein said. “It’s empowering to riders to understand that after wondering who is responsible for years.”

Ruben Gonzales (right) holding the Subway Delay Action Kit made by the Riders Alliance. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Ruben Gonzales, 50, signed the petition as he waited for the N train to take him to his job he’s had for 30 years at a restaurant in Manhattan. “It’s ridiculous, the situation,” he said, adding that he was already running late today. “Every time I’m in the train station, it’s filled up with other people, and I get to work late.”

For Chris Crawford, 24, who works in building construction, the time the MTA consumes in station repairs and construction is too much, and while he hasn’t felt the impact of train delays, he wondered about the hiked prices to ride the subways. He eventually signed the petition after Bailin approached him. “I’ll look into it,” he said when asked about tweeting to Cuomo.

Chris Crawford (left), reading the Subway Delay Action Kit made by the Riders Alliance. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

The Riders Alliance, whose goal is to have Gov. Cuomo come up with funds and a solution to the failing subway system, are planning other day of action events around Queens and the remaining boroughs.

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