Joe Lhota, chairman of the MTA in 2012, has been reconfirmed to the position by the New York State Senate, after being nominated by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The confirmation hurriedly took place at 9:30pm on a Wednesday night — the day the Senate was supposed to adjourn for the rest of the year. Lhota, appearing at the Senate chamber via video chat, answered questions on the many different crises currently facing the MTA; opening his remarks by saying that he is “as frustrated as everyone else is, and more frustrated because I know the MTA can do so much better”.
When asked about whether the MTA should take control of Penn Station, he responded by stating that “… the folks who run Amtrak don’t live in New York,” and cited Grand Central Terminal as an example of how the MTA can properly run large railroad stations.
Lhota, when discussing the aging signals of the subway system, suggested that he would be in favor of longer shutdowns of the systems to replace the equipment. He stressed that the agency need to “start thinking out of the box,” and mentioned the “FASTRACK” maintenance program, a series of late night maintenance service outages, which began during his tenure in 2012.
The State Senate did not pass a bill splitting the Chairman and CEO roles at the MTA, as proposed by Governor Cuomo, but the Governor clarified in a press release that Lhota will delegate all CEO responsibilities to a “permanent Executive Officer”. It is unclear what role Acting Executive Director Ronnie Hakim, who has been leading the agency since former Chairman Thomas Prendergast resigned in January, will fit into.