The storm has passed with less damage than expected. But many will pay the cost of a series of decisions that have paralyzed the city. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio cautiously ordered the closing of roadways, trains and public transportation, which prevented many from working and have kept many business closed, especially small businesses. The problem is not a weather report error or an excess of prudence: The key is to invest and modernize infrastructures and a transit system unworthy of New York City as it needs to remain one of the world’s capitals.
The political battle cannot revolve around whether the precautions were excessive, or who took them. Most people returned home safely and accidents were avoided, while kids enjoyed the snow and the no-school day. But many parents worried because they didn’t have anyone to take care of them and, above all, because they lost a day of work and pay.
The MTA needs 32 billion dollars to renew its trains, but there is a shortfall of $15 billion and nobody seems willing to provide them. Cuomo is proposing connecting the LaGuardia airport with the public transport system, but as a good fiscal conservative, he does not want to use a $5 billion surplus to urgently invest in aging infrastructures that every day cost a lot of money to all of us, but especially to those who pay the increasing fares without seeing improvements in the service.
The storm cost more than $160 million in salaries, according to some estimates, and merchants are still assessing the losses. Others didn’t lose as much. Wall Street kept working thanks to its high-speed networks, and the richest neighborhoods didn’t suffer lines at train stations and supermarkets.
The solution is not to shut down the subway because of snow for the first time in 110 years. Neither is to blame meteorologists, who have already apologized. Fix the trains, bridges and buses, and stop boasting about low taxes, especially for the richest 1%. Stop the fiscal demagoguery and find agreements to invest wisely in a city that badly needs it.
This is the task, the challenge and the response that Cuomo and De Blasio must give New Yorkers.