Elliot “Lee” Sander is a big player in the transportation scene in New York. A professor at NYU, Sander has a wealth of academic and professional experience under his belt. Most recently, he served on the TLC’s Board of Commissioners. But now, he faces a high-profile position as Governor Eliot Spitzer has tapped him as the MTA’s newest executive director and chief executive.
As Spitzer has long pushed for an overhaul at the MTA, from Chairman Peter Kalikow on down, Sander will play an important role in shaping the future of transportation and transportation policy in New York. He’ll get to flex his muscles nearly immediately as Lawrence G. Reuter, the president of New York City Transit, announced his resignation. He’ll leave to, coincidentally, join the engineering firm that designed New York City’s IRT line 122 years ago. It now falls on Sander’s shoulders to find a suitable replacement for the man in charge of the city’s buses and subways.
Under Reuter, the city’s transportation system experienced a massive growth in ridership. As The Times reported, “Annual subway ridership reached 1.45 billion trips in 2005, the highest total since 1953 and a 31 percent increase over 1996, when Mr. Reuter took over the agency. Annual bus ridership rose by 53 percent, to 736 million trips, in the same period.”
For us subway and transportation buffs, this is a Big Deal. It’s Spitzer’s and Sander’s chance to put a real stamp on the future of the subways. Will they pick a visionary who could guide New York City Transit in its efforts to land the funds and will to build the needed subway lines? Will they find someone who can adequately address the potential of terrorism and the subways? Can they find someone who will partake in Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC2030 plan to clean up and renovate every subway station in the next 23 years? I hope so.
In other Sander news, the new MTA director announced earlier this week that he would try to ride “many” of the subway lines so that he can understand his job. Um, well, that’s a relief. I sure hope the MTA is headed up by someone who might ride the subway now and then and actually understand what he’s supposed to be doing. Now, if only they’ll start talking about that Second Ave. subway.
Image courtesy of NYC.gov.