NYC Transit Interim Head to Step Down

Subway cars parked at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Mets-Willets Point rail yard. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Sarah Feinberg, who has served as the interim president of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is leaving the position after 17 months on the job.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced announced Janno Lieber, currently the head of  MTA’s Construction and Development, will serve as Acting Board Chair and CEO of the MTA in the interim.

“Our public transportation systems will be the backbone of New York’s comeback as more and more people return to work in-person,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “Janno knows what it takes to make the MTA work for the millions of customers who rely on this system every day to get to their destination, and he will serve as Acting Board Chair and CEO. I thank him for his devoted service and the role he played in managing a wide-range of transformative projects across the MTA system and for keeping capital projects moving safely during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Feinberg told the New York Post she always expected her time as leader to be a limited 3-6 months, but stayed under during the coronavirus pandemic to work to keep the country’s largest subway system afloat.

“I think it was almost immediately that I realized that COVID was going to be extremely serious for New York, and extremely serious for New York City Transit and that this was likely to be a longer-term assignment,” she said.

Feinberg, who had served as a federal rail regulator under former President Barack Obama, is considering staying in NYC Transit by serving as the MTA chair, a role Cuomo nominated her for. The state Senate is considering splitting the role of MTA leader into two, and with Feinberg becoming MTA chair while Lieber would become the CEO.

“At this critical time in state history, I believe the best long-term approach to leading the MTA would be to have two strong, experienced leaders at the helm – Sarah Feinberg as the first woman Chair and Janno Lieber as CEO,” Cuomo said in a statement. While the Senate has yet to act, the MTA nominees and leaders continue to be available for policy discussions and confirmation hearings, as they have been since the legislation was introduced nearly two months ago.”

Feinberg publicly voiced her approval for the governor’s approach.

“You should have more hands on the wheel. You should have more talented, experienced senior folks running an agency this size,” she said of the two-person leadership plan.

“There are very few large companies or organizations that decide there should be one single point of failure, or one single person in charge of an entire multi-tens-of-thousands-person workforce, multibillion-dollar organization.”

Feinberg said part of the reason she chose to step down was because the demands of the job kept her away from home and her 3-year-old daughter.

“You are not serving New Yorkers well unless you are on call 24/7 and you are owning every rush hour, owning every signal delay and paying attention to every project, and thinking constantly about how you can make sure that customers, riders and your workforce are safe,” she said. “It is a 24/7 job.”


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