$1 billion system for 600 miles of track

Gov. Cuomo says Israeli self-driving tech could pilot NYC’s subways

In Israel for a brief trip focused on solidarity and trade ties, New York State governor also laments rising anti-Semitism, saying NYC has seen an 83% increase, vows zero tolerance

Yaakov Schwartz is The Times of Israel's deputy Jewish World editor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a solidarity and trade mission meets with Israel President Reuven Rivlin, June 27, 2019. (Courtesy)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a solidarity and trade mission meets with Israel President Reuven Rivlin, June 27, 2019. (Courtesy)

In Israel for a brief 24-hour visit focusing on economic cooperation and solidarity, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed interest Thursday in using Israeli driverless technology in New York City’s train and subway system — a project he estimated to be valued at over a billion dollars.

“New York has probably the largest subway system in the United States of America, if not the world – 600 miles of underground track. We have been trying for years to get state of the art technology to guide the navigation of the trains,” Cuomo said during a gathering Jerusalem’s King David hotel.

He noted that he spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the project during their meeting earlier in the day.

“It’s over a billion dollar product that we’re willing to purchase, so the economic benefits are amazing. And whoever develops this software system, if you have an application for the New York City subway system, then you can sell it to every train station around the country and around the world,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on a solidarity and trade mission, meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, June 27, 2019. (Courtesy)

Among participants in the round table gathering were consul general of Israel in New York Dani Dayan; Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi; Technion president Peretz Lavie; and managing director of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority Veronique Hakim.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo visits the Western Wall on June 28, 2019 (The Western Wall Heritage Foundation)

Cuomo also signed a memorandum of understanding between New York and the Israel Innovation Authority, which agrees to identify locations to test smart train technology, fund shared incubator space and programs for both Israel and New York, join research and developers, and make space in 10 “hotspots” around New York State for Israeli companies.

Declaring the Empire State “open for business,” Cuomo called Israel “a very important partner to the State of New York.”

“We’ve been working on trade with Israel for a number of years, this is not our first trip,” he said. “The numbers are shocking: New York sends $5 billion in exports to Israel, more than any other state in the US. Israel exports to New York over $8 billion, more than any other state. So the economic synergy between New York and Israel is very, very important.”

Other key industries Cuomo addressed were tech startups and incubators, drone technology, and biotech and healthcare.

The New York governor also lamented “the current scourge of anti-Semitism that is happening around the world, but is also happening in the United States of America.”

Cuomo referred to the “horrific” anti-Semitic killings in Poway, California this past April, and at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of last year.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a memorandum of understanding with Israel at a round table meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, June 27, 2019. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

“I’d like to say that we’ve been immune in the State of New York, but we’re not,” he said. “We’ve had an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic activity in New York City. This is hard for me to imagine.”

Noting that there are 1.75 million Jewish people in New York – more than anywhere else outside of Israel – Cuomo assured those present that New York State will give no quarter to bigotry.

Touting a zero tolerance policy, increased police protection, and stricter legislation, Cuomo said that all those guilty of anti-Semitic activity “will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

He also said that New York is funding security programs for religious-affiliated organizations such as schools, community centers and after-school programs for the first time ever.

In an earlier meeting with the governor, President Reuven Rivlin welcomed Cuomo back to Israel, calling him “a true friend” to the Jewish state.

“Like you, I am concerned about rising anti-Semitism and appreciate everything you are doing to combat it,” Rivlin said, thanking Cuomo for signing an executive order to withhold funds from supporters of the anti-Israel boycott movement.

This is Cuomo’s third visit to Israel since taking office in 2011.

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