After a brief but all-too-familiar fracas between New York City Mayor de Blasio and the NY State-owned Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the MTA on February 22 approved the upgrading of eight subway stations.  The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 23, reported by Paul Berger) confirmed that among the eight stations are the two which serve commuters connecting at New York's Penn Station, among which are many NJ Transit riders. The Journal noted that the upgrading of the two stations caused an extra bit of controversy, since MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is also a director of the company that runs Madison Square Garden, which sits above Penn Station and whose patrons could also benefit from better subway stations. The MTA's counsel and its ethics officer said they had reviewed the situation and believed there was no conflict of interest. Improved subway stations would also benefit riders of the Long Island Rail Road, which also uses Penn Station and is also part of the MTA, so Lhota clearly has multiple interests at play in voting for the improvements. The entire plan to spend money on subway station improvements had recently sparked controversy when the Mayor questioned the wisdom of rehabilitating stations when the overall performance of the subway system is in question, and is often blamed on lack of spending on basic maintenance. The New York Times reported (Sarah Maslin Nir, Feb. 22) that criticism of the overall station program included the fact that no money was provided for elevators for handicapped access. NYC Transit president Andy Byford, recently arrived from Toronto, noted that some of the stations to be rehabbed but which are not accessible are close to other stations that do have access, while in some cases adding accessibility would unduly delay the rehabilitation work.