NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- In a shakeup at the nation's largest transit agency, Sarah Feinberg will be nominated to replace Patrick Foye as head of the MTA.
Feinberg would be the first woman to serve as MTA Board Chair and take the post after leading New York City Transit through the worst public health crisis in over a century, state officials said.
"I am thrilled to be stepping into a position that allows me to continue to play a significant role in how our subway and bus systems operate, but to also have even more of an impact in shaping the future of the agency, and of transportation in this city and region," Feinberg said. "There should be no higher priority than ensuring we are doing all we can to bring ridership back - and as ridership comes back, so will the city's economic recovery."
The move comes as Feinberg has assumed an increasingly public role -- demanding more uniformed officers underground. And she was unafraid to take on Mayor Bill de Blasio, who publicly accused her agency of fear-mongering.
"I think that she's shown that she can lead in a crisis," said MTA watchdog Lisa Daglian. "If you can lead through crisis that's really when you want to test someone's mettle."
Janno Lieber will be appointed as the agency's chief executive.
"The COVID crisis proved - once again - that mass transit is New York's linchpin, in good times and bad," Lieber said. "Now we need to keep building a system that connects people from all communities to jobs, education and opportunity. I look forward to taking on this important new role and to lead MTA in support of the New York City region's economic revival."
State officials say after shaping the agency's historic $51.5 billion capital plan and driving the agency's robust construction efforts during the COVID crisis as President of MTA Construction & Development, Lieber will serve as CEO effective July 30.
Foye is expected to move to the Empire State Development, a state agency that handles economic development.
"I am proud of the way the MTA prepared for and responded to the pandemic, and the way our heroic employees - heroes moving heroes - carried first responders and essential workers to the frontlines to do their jobs," Foye said. "I am also proud and grateful for the extraordinary amount of federal COVID funding we advocated for and received to support a stronger MTA, building on the fiscal efficiencies we implemented and the successful approval of Central Business District Tolling. I know the strong gains we have made will continue under Sarah and Janno's watch. I look forward to serving as Interim President and CEO of Empire State Development and working with Chairman Steve Cohen to continue innovating in support of New York's post-pandemic economic recovery."
Governor Andrew Cuomo commented on the MTA move.
"Sarah, Janno and Pat are not only fiercely dedicated public servants, but proven leaders who kept the metropolitan region's transportation network operating efficiently through the worst public health crisis in a generation, and thanks to their tireless efforts, our essential workers were able to get to their destinations and help save lives," Cuomo said. "Moreover, they oversaw and pushed through historic change and construction progress across the MTA, giving the system the upgrades that will better serve riders for generations. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I thank all three of them for their ongoing service and have full confidence they will continue to work their hearts out in their new roles."
One government watchdog group has accused Cuomo of short-circuiting the system.
"This is happening in a last minute, big ugly deal, last week of session," said Rachael Fauss with Reinvent Albany. "There's no public notice and no opportunity for the members of the public to weigh in and understand what is happening."
Feinberg has served as interim head of the MTA division that runs the city's subways and buses since March of last year.
From 2015 to 2017, she served as the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. Previous to that from 2013 to 2015, she served as chief of staff of United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx in the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The nominations will need to be approved by the State Senate before the legislative session ends. A new Transit Authority president has yet to be named.
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