- Getty/Spencer Platt
- Joseph Lhota, the chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has resigned following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s election to a third term.
- The MTA is responsible for New York’s public transit system, including the subway, which has become increasingly unreliable.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Fernando Ferrer, the MTA’s vice chairman, will replace Lhota on an interim basis as the agency searches for a new chairman.
Joseph Lhota, the chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has resigned following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s election to a third term. Lhota said in October that he did not plan to leave the agency, according to The New York Times.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Fernando Ferrer, the MTA’s vice chairman, will replace Lhota on an interim basis as the agency searches for a new chairman.
Lhota was appointed to the chairman position in June for the second time, after a stint in 2012. Lhota said in a statement that he had taken a second term for “the sole purpose of halting the decline of service” in New York’s transit system. During his most recent term, which was set to end in 2021, he had faced questions about potential conflicts of interest arising from other positions he maintained while serving as the MTA’s chairman.
The MTA is responsible for New York’s public transit system, including the subway, which has become increasingly unreliable due to decades of inadequate investment, an outdated signaling system, track fires, and overcrowding.
In 2017, the MTA began working on an $800 million rescue plan that included urgent track and signal repairs. Lhota said in his statement that in September, there were fewer train delays than at any point since February 2016.
In May, New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford unveiled a plan to repair and modernize the New York City subway system. The plan, called “Fast Forward,” would replace an antiquated signal system, redesign the way passengers pay fares, increase the number of subway cars, and install elevators at stations. It would also include station repairs, an increased number of buses, and redesigned bus routes.
Byford said the plan would cost about $40 billion, according to Gothamist.
Transit projects in New York are far more expensive than those in comparable cities throughout the world partly because of generous compensation for workers and high costs from contractors, both of whom are allowed to negotiate their rates without input from any New York City agencies.
The Times has previously estimated that upgrading the signaling system for every subway line could take 50 years and cost $20 billion.
You can read Lhota’s full statement below:
I want to take this opportunity to thank Governor Cuomo for the trust and support he has given me. His non-stop drive, enormous energy and vision are re-creating a better and stronger MTA. The Governor understands the over-arching importance of mass transit for the people and the economy of New York. His commitment and robust support to enhance and modernize the MTA into an integrated 21st century transportation system is unmatched and unwavering.
In late spring 2017, following a well-documented period of rapid deterioration of transit services, I volunteered to become MTA chairman with the sole purpose of halting the decline of service and stabilizing the system for my fellow New Yorkers.
The Subway Action Plan was developed in my first month at the MTA and it has successfully arrested the subway’s decline. The plan has produced a 34.8% decline in major subway incidents causing delays (a comparison of 9/2017 to 9/2018). In September 2018 the number of total train delays fell to the lowest point since February 2016. There is still a long way to go to achieve the performance that New Yorkers demand and deserve. The proposed Fast Forward plan provides the roadmap for modernizing the entire system.
When I agreed to return to the MTA it was with the understanding that I would maintain my private sector positions and delegate day-to-day responsibility to a new team. Accordingly, I created the Office of the Chairman for the purpose of managing the MTA. This office includes the managing director, president, chief development officer and chief financial officer. In addition, during my tenure I have appointed new leadership at the operating agencies by selecting new presidents at NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, a new general counsel and a new MTA chief safety officer. Together, they work every second of every day to further stabilize and enhance the MTA for the benefit of all New Yorkers.
Finally, anyone who knows me will have a keen understanding of the appreciation and admiration that I have for the men and women of the MTA. Every day, they enable 9+ million New Yorkers to safely get to work, go to school, meet dates, have doctor’s appointments and get home via anyone of the MTA’s assets. Next time you see a subway, bus, railroad or bridge/tunnel worker, please thank them for their service.