Governor Andrew Cuomo tapped his predecessor to take the seat given up in January by Paul McCartney's new wife, Nancy Shevell.
Cuomo said Monday that Paterson's energy and expertise will help the state reform the MTA and improve service for New Yorkers.
"Governor Paterson has dedicated his life to working for the people of this state and I am excited that he will continue his public service at the MTA," Cuomo said.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said he applauds the nomination.
"I look forward to former Governor Paterson bringing to our board deliberations the charm, wit and compassion he has shown throughout his public life," Lhota said in a statement.
New York City Council member James Vaca, chair of the transportation committee, said Pater's sensitivity to issues affecting the disabled community will add a "welcomed perspective" to MTA deliberations.
Paterson is legally blind. Last week, he was present at City Hall for an announcement that city taxis are getting technology to help visually impaired riders make sure they're not being cheated.
Since leaving office, Paterson has taught college and hosted a radio talk show.
Paterson was the 55th Governor of New York State. Prior to becoming governor, he served in the New York State Senate for over twenty years, becoming Senate Minority Leader in 2003, and served as Lieutenant Governor.
Governor Paterson's nomination is subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate.
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