Just one day after Howard Roberts resigned as the president of New York City Transit, MTA CEO and Chairman Jay Walder has tabbed Tom Prendergast as his replacement. Prendergast, 57, is a veteran of the MTA and had been serving as CEO of Vancouver’s South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority. He stepped down from his post at TransLink today to prepare for the move back to New York.
Predergast will bring to Transit 30 years of experience in the industry. He worked at both the Chicago Transit Authority and the Federal Transit Administration before landing in New York in 1982. For 18 years, he rose thorough the managerial ranks at NYC Transit. He served as Senior Vice President of Subways from 1990-2000 and as President of the Long Island Rail Road from 1994-2000. Before joining TransLink in 2008, he worked as a consultant on numerous transportation infrastructure projects.
“It is a tremendous honor to return home to lead the outstanding men and women who run one of the world’s great transit systems,” Prendergast said in a statement today. “I look forward to working with Jay Walder to implement the customer service improvements that New Yorkers deserve. Running New York City Transit is one of the great challenges and honors in the profession, and I will bring all of my energy and passion to the job.”
In July 2008, Predergast left the private sector to move to Canada, and today, his departure, less than 18 months after landing in Vancouver, came as a shock. He put it, though, in terms New Yorkers can understand today. “Leaving TransLink is difficult because this is a great organization with great people and potential,” he said. “But at the end of the day, for me, being asked to run New York’s transit authority is like being asked to play in Yankee Stadium: You just don’t say no.”
Prendergast will inherit a position faced with numerous difficulties. The subway infrastructure is sagging under its age, and the MTA is about to begin a component-based repair program that should streamline State of Good Repair efforts. Meanwhile, Jay Walder has been very vocal in his desire to see technological innovation and 21st Century upgrades arrive in New York City. Still, many believe Prendergast to be a top candidate for the job. “I believe he is universally recognized as one of the leading lights in transit management,” an anonymous source told the Daily News.
Walder, in a statement, echoed that praise. “Tom is a leader who brings an extraordinary variety of experiences from around the world to a system that he already knows extremely well,” he said. “Tom’s work running one of the most technologically sophisticated systems in Vancouver will be invaluable as we take the MTA to the next level in performance and customer service.”