Riders entering subway stations in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst one recent morning might have been surprised to see volunteers handing out fans on the platform.
The volunteers were members of the grassroots group Fight Back Bay Ridge and they were distributing the fans not just to help riders cool off in the hot weather but to send a message about how elected officials are letting the public down when it comes to subway service.
Ten members of Fight Back Bay Ridge spent the morning rush hour distributing fans and leaflets to riders at the 95th Street, 77th Street, Bay Ridge Avenue, Kings Highway, 20th Avenue and 71st Street stations on the D, N, Q and R lines.
All of the targeted subway stations are located within state Sen. Martin Golden’s district and they were chosen on purpose, according to Fight Back Bay Ridge Co-Founder Mallory McMahon, who said the group’s goal is to raise awareness of Golden’s lack of action on the subways.
The fans contained the slogan, “State Senator Marty Golden: Nothing but Delays.”
“We want riders to know that the condition of the subways and why there are always so many delays is not just because of old equipment but because there are elected officials who are not doing their jobs,” McMahon told this newspaper.
Golden, a Republican representing a swath of Brooklyn from Bay Ridge to Marine Park, is a target because he is a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Capital Review Board, a panel that looks at capital expenditures, McMahon said.
She also charged that Golden, who is running for re-election in November, has voted in favor of state budgets that have unfairly siphoned funds away from the MTA and toward other projects unrelated to transportation.
“He has voted to divert $500 million over the past six years,” McMahon told this newspaper. “That is a lot of money that could have been used to make subway repairs.”
The subways in Golden’s Senate district are getting worse, McMahon said. There were 16 delays on the D and R subway lines during a recent 23-day period, she said.
Fight Back Bay Ridge has equal ire for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to McMahon, who said that he is also a big reason behind the group’s public awareness campaign.
“Golden and Cuomo are two career politicians who don’t have our best interests at heart,” she said.
Fight Back Bay Ridge member Alan Holt, who distributed fans at the 71st Street Station on the D line, said that part of the problem is that Golden can’t relate to subway riders.
“We have a senator who drives everywhere and doesn’t take the trains, with delays increasing on his watch.” Holt added that since he moved to Bay Ridge two years ago, it takes him 15 minutes longer to get to Union Square to go to work in the morning.
Holt said he has sympathy for MTA employees working in subway stations. “The system is falling apart around them just as it is falling apart around us,” he told this newspaper.
Another volunteer, Jay Brown, of Bensonhurst, who talked to commuters at the 20th Avenue station, said, “It was clear that people are fed up and want those responsible to be accountable for their actions in office.”
Fight Back Bay Ridge will be distributing materials through Election Day.
The group, which formed in late 2016 in response to the election of President Donald Trump, is not endorsing a candidate in the state Senate race.
Golden disputed the charges made by McMahon and Fight Back Bay Ridge.
“It’s not true,” he told this newspaper.
Golden said he worked hard to convince Mayor Bill de Blasio to chip in half of the funding, some $416 million, to help pay for the MTA’s ambitious Subway Action Plan to repair antiquated systems. Cuomo has pledged more than $400 million in state funding toward the plan. “It’s really going to make a difference in our subway service,” he said.
Golden said he supported congestion pricing for Uber, Lyft and other for-hire services in Manhattan. The program, in which drivers pay a fee to enter Manhattan, will generate funds for the transit system.
In response to the charge that he has voted for budgets that redirect MTA funds, Golden said has introduced legislation to create a “Lock Box” to prevent New York State from siphoning money away the MTA.