Hochul Picks Cuomo’s Choice to Head NYC Transit Agency
(Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul picked Janno Lieber to head the nation’s largest public transit system on Saturday, sticking with former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s choice to help restore ridership decimated by the pandemic.
Cuomo’s sexual allegation scandal and resignation cast doubt on who would lead the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Lieber has been serving as acting chief executive officer and chairman since July 31, when his predecessor Pat Foye left to head Empire State Development.
Prior to becoming acting CEO, Lieber was the MTA’s president of Construction and Development, which implements its capital plan. Elizabeth Velez, president of a construction firm founded by her father, was named to the MTA board, according to a statement from the governor.
“Janno is leading the MTA forward with expert management and vision, and Elizabeth will bring a wealth of invaluable knowledge and expertise to our challenges together,” Hochul said. “These are strong, competent leaders who will help steer the MTA through this critical time.”
The state Senate must approve Hochul’s nomination. The MTA has struggled to bring riders back to its network of subways, buses and commuter rail lines in New York City. The subway carries only a little more than half the weekday passengers it did in 2019, and the MTA faces a potential $1.4 billion deficit 2025 when federal pandemic aid runs out.
Lieber must implement the MTA’s congestion pricing plan that will charge motorists driving into Manhattan’s central business district. MTA officials anticipate the program could take almost two years to get up and running. Proponents of mass transit say the agency needs to start congestion pricing sooner. The MTA’s multi-year capital plan relies on $15 billion of financing backed by congestion pricing revenue.
The MTA’s other major projects include rehabilitating Penn Station, the busiest rail terminal in the U.S., extending the new Second Avenue subway line into Harlem and updating subway signals to modernize the system and decrease delays.
Lieber, a former lawyer, joined the MTA in June 2017. From 2003 to 2017 he oversaw redevelopment of the World Trade Center site for Silverstein Properties.
Transit advocates from various organizations came out in support of Lieber heading the MTA after Cuomo appointed him as acting CEO and chairman, heralding Lieber’s knowledge of executing large-scale projects and his leadership skills.
Cuomo earlier this year tried to persuade the state legislature to split the MTA’s top leadership roles, the chief executive officer and the chairman, into two positions held by different people, with Lieber to serve as CEO and former bus and subway chief Sarah Feinberg as board chair.
Cuomo’s proposal to overhaul the MTA’s leadership fell apart once state Attorney General Letitia James on Aug. 3 issued a report that detailed alleged unwanted groping and sexual comments by Cuomo. A week later Cuomo resigned after a barrage of calls for him to leave office left him alone and without support from any elected official.
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