NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The first woman to run the city's subway system is leaving the job after overseeing four months of unprecedented challenges and changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Eyewitness News has learned.
Sally Librera, the NYC Transit senior vice president of subways, told her staff Tuesday morning that her last day overseeing the day-to-day operations of the sprawling system will be July 24.
"It has been my privilege and honor to work with an incredible team of professionals for the past 16 years at New York City Transit, and lead the hardworking, brave employees of the subway for the past two years," Librera said in a statement. "I am incredibly proud of what we have done as a team to markedly improve performance for our riders and carry New Yorkers through the unbelievably challenging peak of the COVID pandemic this year. I will forever be inspired by the bravery and fortitude of the subways employees, each of whom are true masters of their crafts. I have made the difficult decision to transition toward new opportunities, but I am confident the talented subways team will continue to deliver for our customers."
Librera -- whose first career was a teacher in California -- joined the MTA in 2004 as a transportation planner and worked her way up over the next 16 years, eventually running the Staten Island Railway and then taking over the subways, the first woman to do so.
Officials say she was planning on leaving just before coronavirus hit the city, but stayed to face the unprecedented challenges, including:
-- managing the suspension of overnight service for the first time in the railroad's history,
-- overseeing the extensive cleaning and unheard of disinfecting of every subway station and train car
-- keeping the subways running with an unprecedented number of workers out and amid general workforce concerns (a single positive coronavirus test could force many workers on the same subway line to be quarantined)
More than 130 MTA employees, including 86 subway workers, died from coronavirus. And as the agency was beginning to battle back the effects of the pandemic, a train operator died in a March subway fire is believed to have been intentionally and remains unsolved.
Frank Jezycki, the chief operating officer for subways, will take over for Librera on an interim basis.
It is the second major departure for the subways. Andy Byford resigned as head of New York City Transit and started his new job as commissioner of Transport for London Monday.
New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg also released a statement, praising Librera for her accomplishments.
"When you have someone as passionate and incredibly talented as Sally Librera, you know at some point she is going to continue her journey and move on. MTA New York City Transit has been fortunate to have Sally leading Subways since May 2018 and holding various roles, including VP and Chief Officer of Staten Island Railway, for the past 16 years," Feinberg said. "Running subways is one of the hardest jobs in the country and over the past two years Sally has been instrumental in improving the system's performance. In the past four months, she has proven her strength and leadership getting the system through an unprecedented pandemic, and I know she will command her next endeavor with the same diligence she has at the MTA."
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