Feinberg could stay on if State Senate confirms her as MTA chair amid leadership changes

Transit

NEW YORK — As riders face delays and budget issues confront officials, some leaders are changing positions at the MTA. 

MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said goodbye to his colleagues at MTA headquarters Thursday afternoon. He’s leaving to take another appointment as Interim President and CEO of Empire State Development.  

Foye thanked his 70,000 colleagues and said there’s a lot of talent at the agency. 

“MTA is facing lots of challenges but today, we celebrate the agency workers,” he said.

Earlier this year, New York Gov. Cuomo proposed splitting the chair and CEO position into two separate jobs. 

The state senate wanted both positions to require confirmation and did not take up the measure. The state assembly did pass the bill. 

“At this critical time in state history, I believe the best long-term approach to leading the MTA would be to have two strong, experienced leaders at the helm — Sarah Feinberg as the first woman Chair and Janno Lieber as CEO,” Cuomo said. “While the Senate has yet to act, the MTA nominees and leaders continue to be available for policy discussions and confirmation hearings, as they have been since the legislation was introduced nearly two months ago.”

Janno Lieber will serve as incoming Acting Chairman and CEO.

He led the World Trade Center complex rebuilding and has been MTA Construction and Development Chief since 2017. 

“I am excited to get to work leading the MTA’s continued recovery from the pandemic, though I am disappointed I won’t yet be working alongside my supremely qualified friend Sarah Feinberg,” said Lieber. “We are still counting on the Senate to act on the Governor’s proposal and approve her historic nomination as the MTA’s first woman Chair.” 

Lieber would be named the MTA’s Chief Executive Officer under the proposed reorganization. 

Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit, has been in the position for 17 months. She agreed to the temporary appointment as the pandemic was beginning. 

Her last day is Friday, July 30 but she signaled a willingness to return if the senate would confirm her as chair. 

“As we wait for the State Senate to return to session, the governor, Janno and I agree that this is the best path forward to provide stability and continuity of leadership at the MTA. I hope to join him soon in leading the MTA and region through this next chapter,” she said. 

MTA officials expressed confidence in leadership and operations. 

Transit advocates thanked Foye, Feinberg and transit crews for their work. 

“Ensuring that there will be no leadership vacuum at the top of the MTA will enable the agency to make critical decisions without interruption. We look forward to the regular Senate confirmation process when the legislature reconvenes,” said Danny Pearlstein with Riders Alliance. 

TWU International President John Samuelsen, representing bus and subway crews, has concerns about Lieber’s approach to management, specifically related to the use of contractors to fill operational and maintenance jobs at East Side Access.  

“Union workers have been doing these tasks all across the railroad for many decades. This would be downright dangerous for the riding public. We think he might try such a move again. If he does, we will fight him every step of the way with everything we have at our disposal,” Samuelson said. 

Before 2009, the roles of MTA chair and the executive officer were separated. They were combined to create a central leader. 

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