What's next for MTA following the surprise departure of Joe Lhota? - Metro US

What’s next for MTA following the surprise departure of Joe Lhota?

Joe Lhota
Joe Lhota stepped down as New York MTA Chairman on Friday. Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Joe Lhota surprised many when it was announced he would be stepping down from his position as New York MTA Chairman on Friday, effective immediately. Governor Andrew Cuomo made the official announcement.

As shared by Joe Lhota, his decision to resign has been inevitable since taking on the position last-year on a part-time basis due to his responsibilities as chief of staff at NYU Langone Health. Overtime however, some questioned whether this created a conflict.

“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,” Lhota said on Friday. “Accordingly, I created the Office of the Chairman for the purpose of managing the MTA.”

That wasn’t always the case as Lhota appeared to be planning to stay in his position for a while until recently.

“My term ends on June 10, 2021,” he said.

Lhota’s resignation comes in conjunction with Cuomo’s third term as well as MTA train delays making it to an all time low since February 2016.

“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,” Lhota said. Adding, “The Subway Action Plan was developed in my first month at the MTA and it has successfully arrested the subway’s decline.”

What’s next for the MTA?

Since Lhota’s departure, the MTA has appointed Vice Chairman Freddy Ferrer as acting chairman.

In a statement, Ferrer urged Gov. Cuomo to take his time as he looks to appoint a new MTA chairman. Whether Cuomo will take that advice is yet to be determined.

“I would urge the governor to take his time,” Ferrer told News 4. “This is one of the most important appointments he will make, ever. This is the most important transportation organization on planet Earth. It’s important that we get it right.”

Others appear to agree with Ferrer. Many hope Gov. Cuomo will find a chair who can dedicate the time needed to fix the failing subway system.

“The politics that the MTA chairman needs to be playing are the politics of getting the funding that the MTA needs, not the politics of weighing in on the squabbles between the city and the state,” said Nick Sifuentes of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign

“The MTA badly needs a full-time CEO. It’s a humongous, sprawling enterprise,” said John Kaehny of the good-government group Reinvent Albany.

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