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Subway troubles may be tied to money woes: Liu

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Liu, chairman of the City Council Transportation Committee, held a public hearing last week to look into a series of subway disruptions last month.Liu said afterward that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was "in a state of denial" on the question of whether the disruptions might be due to lessening maintenance."We are investigating today's subway disruption on the V, F. R lines in queens, caused by a broken rail on the V line in Woodhaven," Liu said in a statement issued jointly with City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan).Subway service on Queens Boulevard was interrupted for about two hours Tuesday after a broken rail was discovered near the Woodhaven Boulevard station in the early morning rush hour. The V, E and F lines were affected."Despite denials by the TA at our last Transportation Committee hearing, there is clearly a connection between the repeated failure of critical components in our subways in recent weeks and declining investment in mass transit systems over the past decade," Liu said."We are concerned that this incident might be the latest example of deferred maintenance and security of critical components by the MTA," Liu said. "Fortunately, the broken rail was found in the nick of time. Needless to say, broken rails can result in far more devastating damage."Last week Liu and other committee members questioned New York City Transit Authority President Lawrence at a public hearing."Are these disruptions a random occurrence or are they symptomatic of a systemic decline in subway maintenance?" Liu asked Reuter, who testified at City Hall against a backdrop of charts and graphs to support his viewpoint.Reuter steadfastly refused to acknowledge any connection between the subway problems and decreasing state transit money."By all measures, today we provide more service to more customers, more reliably and more safely than at any other time in our hundred-year history," Reuter said.The committee sought reasons for the shutdown of the Lexington Avenue line on March 16, the No. 7 on March 17 and the 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains on March 22 as well as the March 23 two-hour delay of the 7th Avenue line between Times Square and Chambers Street."The MTA keeps using the 1970s as a standard for evaluating the status of today's subway system," Liu said. "No one wants to return to the conditions of the 1970s, so is that really the appropriate standard for determining if our subways are in a state of good repair?Councilman Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx) told Reuter that "when the MTA tells us today they have plenty of money for maintenance, I see their numbers with a jaundiced eye because this is the same rhetoric transit officials were giving us in the 1970s when the subway was declining. Before you assure us everything is okay, I want proof because we've heard it all before."Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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