It took the Cardinals in the Vatican two days to pick a new pope. It’s been 79 days and counting since Gov. Andrew Cuomo last had a permanent MTA Chairman and CEO. Joe Lhota, the GOP’s leading fundraiser in the race for mayor and, as of last Friday, still a straphanger on the 42nd Street shuttle, left his role as the agency’s CEO and Chairman as 2012 melted into 2013, and in the meantime, there’s been absolute silence from the governor’s office.
Earlier this week, DNA Info’s Jill Colvin canvassed the usual suspects as she assessed the MTA vacancy. The agency is in very good interim hands right now with Tom Prendergast serving as the MTA’s operational head and Fernando Ferrer as temporary Board chairman, but the lack of action from Albany on a key political appointee is concerning to transit advocates. “They have other fish to fry and this is not at the top of their to-do basket,” Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. “It can go on too long. I don’t think it’s at that point yet, but I wish it were further along than I sense it is.”
When Jay Walder left, Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly convened a search committee to identify the best replacement, but no such body has been put together this time around. Cuomo, whose name has been at the forefront of the MTA’s post-Sandy recovery efforts, hasn’t shown much willingness to engage in transit policy and politics, but Ferrer, who doesn’t want the permanent job, believes something will happen soon. “I know he’s working on this,” he said. “That answer satisfies me completely. And I expect a move here fairly soon.” Meanwhile, the agency is in a “wait-and-see” mode as the days tick away.