Update (4:35 p.m.): Here’s a rare bit of good news out of Albany concerning the MTA’s future: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided to keep Jay Wader as head of the MTA and Christopher Ward as Executive Director of the Port Authority, Erik Engquist of Crain’s New York reported this morning. According to the story, Walder has already been informed of the decision, and Cuomo, who “credits Mr. Walder with finding efficiencies worth hundreds of millions of dollars” at the MTA, appears pleased with Walder’s tenure at the MTA. Engquist’s sources say that Walder’s Golden Parachute provisions had nothing to do with Cuomo’s decision.
As Crain’s notes, “the decisions to keep the Port and MTA chiefs are not likely to draw many objections, except from the Transport Workers Union, which has attempted to demonize Mr. Walder in an effort to gain leverage in contract negotiations.” I’d say that’s an accurate assessment. The TWU fears an MTA head with the full support of a governor who has discussed going after union contracts while transit advocates have praised Walder for his willingness to cut the MTA’s fat while moving the subway system and its technology into the 21st Century. All in all, it’s a good move to keep Walder on, and the MTA will be able to enjoy stability at the top for the next half a decade.
Gene Russianoff, head of the Straphangers Campaign, voiced his support for the move this afternoon. “Governor Andrew Cuomo did the right thing keeping Jay Walder – a transit professional – MTA Chairman and CEO,” he said in a statement. “Hopefully, this positive signal will be followed by positive actions, including Governor Cuomo’s not raiding dedicated transit funds, as well as coming up with the billions needed to repair our aging transit system.”