‘It makes sense’: Sarah Feinberg talks splitting MTA leadership role, last day with NYC Transit


NEW YORK — New York City Transit is in search of a new leader as Friday marks the end of the line for the woman who was handed the reins a year and a half ago.

Sarah Feinberg helped guide New York City through one of the scariest times in the city’s history. 

When she first took the position as interim president of New York City Transit, she told PIX11 News, it would probably last three to six months. 

“Eighteen months later, here we are,” she said.

Feinberg said the decision to step down did not come out of the blue and she wanted to focus on her family. 

“The president of New York City Transit – that job is a 24/7 job. You own every rush hour, you own every signal delay, you own every project, you own every incident in the system,” she said. “It’s never ending.”

The interim president said New Yorkers deserve someone who can focus on them 24/7, but after 18 months, she needs to spend time with family, especially her 3-year-old daughter. 

Feinberg said her greatest accomplishment in the position was “getting us through the darkest days of COVID, and I didn’t do that, the men and women of New York City Transit did.”

She also said a lot of progress was made on buses, installing a Communications-Based Train Control and addressing the crime issue while she was under the leadership. 

Despite stepping down for family, Feinberg said she wants more women and moms to take these jobs, adding that it’s important for more women to take jobs in transportation, in transit, public, city and state service.

She’s stepping down from the position, but she’s not completely saying farewell to transit. 

Feinberg was previously nominated to be the chairperson of the MTA, as part of a plan to split up former Chairman and CEO Pat Foye’s role into two positions.

However, the chairperson role remains in limbo after the state Senate failed to vote on Cuomo’s proposal to split MTA leadership.

Feinberg would take the position if it was offered to her as it’s not a 24/7 job, and the focus of the chair is “the big picture” and making big decisions on the future of the transit agencies. 

Feinberg said “it makes sense” to split the role between two people, questioning why only one person should have sole responsibility for 72,000 employees and multi-billion dollar agencies. She also believes it makes more sense to have more experienced, senior members serve and lead the MTA together.

Feinberg said she and fellow nominee for the split positions, Janno Lieber, have offered the senate public hearings, briefings and conversations, but since the Senate went out of session for a while, they may be focused on other things.

“This is just about what makes sense operationally and managerially for the largest agency,” she said, “It’s about the future of the state.”

When asked if she has anyone in mind to take her place, Feinberg said “there is a great list and there are really experienced, strong professionals” who can take over.

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