Instead of focusing on how to go to bat for the governor, Local 100 leadership should be focusing on its own members and on the riders and taxpayers who foot all the bills.

Transit workers can rightfully expect confrontations and assaults to continue as they are thrust into the front lines to face justified public anger and outrage over the failures of the MTA and the shameful attempts by Joe Lhota and John Samuelsen to play politics with the issues and with the public and with the lives of transit workers.

In my 15 years as a senior union representative (nine of which I served as Local 100 President and principal negotiator with multiple governors), not once did any question come up as to who runs the subway and bus systems. Other than the bully pulpit at City hall and City Hall’s  ability to weigh in on the impact of settlement patterns in contract negotiations, there was no doubt or question that the governor called the shots. That’s to whom the chair of the MTA and I would speak about the outcome of all critical matters. Directions to the chair came from, or were dispatched by, the “Second Floor” or its emissaries. That’s the way it always was, even before my time.  Unless, of course, New Yorkers have begun to subscribe to “alternate facts” and an “alternate reality.”

The primary money problem, which is being ignored and which is actually the elephant in the room, is the use of the riders, through the fare box, to profit predatory and usury bond holders who are holding New York’s subway and bus systems hostage to their insatiable greed. It’s the transit system’s biggest cost scandal, which is hardly spoken about. It’s the accepted fate of New York riders. Problem is, nobody told them! It’s absolutely sad that our own once proud union (TWU Local 100) via its present administration is now locked into promoting the MTA’s spin. Once you address that, and then make sure that capital expenditure does not flow into the pockets of the MTA’s contractor friends long engaged in a feeding frenzy with billions of dollars, there would be plenty of money left to fund the fixes needed.

But absent the will to confront these challenges or the ability to force the powers-that-be to summon that will, New Yorkers will be complaining but locked in anguish for a long time to come.

The clumsily thought out 10-point program put out by a union leadership, which is in bed with the governor and which has shown itself willing to act as his hatchet man (LLRR negotiations, de Blasio, handing over the keys to the transit “lock box” to Cuomo, the recent $64 million diversion—for all of which Samuelsen has been quiet like a church mouse), is seriously flawed on arrival. It basically says that the problem is not what the MTA is doing, just that they are not doing enough of it and need to do more of it. More of this and more of that? Come on!

The idea of more inspections during “commission hours” (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) goes against decades-long practices that came about after workers were being killed during commission hours and because service interruptions because of work were affecting the MTA’s bottom line—the fare box and the city’s commercial activity. Also, staging crews on trains in tunnels when trains are not running or lines are clogged or blocked is completely idiotic. It is stunning that these union “leaders” do not understand why emergency crews have always attacked service interruptions from upstairs, from the streets!

An explosive deployment of Bus Rapid Transit is the best short-term measure that also brings long-term benefit that can change the face of the MTA for the better, increase efficiency exponentially, benefit the environment and allow NYC time to better deal with overcapacity downstairs.  A burgeoning problem, which requires increased capacity to match the load now and which is coming downstream if the city continues to grow as expected. A problem that requires longer term, properly funded, structural expansion on an express track with planning that prioritizes service delivery to riders over profits for Wall Street banks and stockholders.

If there’s a will, there’s a way.

Roger Toussaint was a subway cleaner and track worker, and he was president of TWU Local 100 from 2001 to 2009 and director of a strategic planning at TWU from 2009 to 2012.