Hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation, Janno Lieber, the acting chairman and CEO of the MTA whom Cuomo appointed less than two weeks ago, told agency staff in a memo that "the revival of New York depends on the work you all do in delivering reliable transportation across the region."

Lieber writes, "This is a particularly critical time for the MTA as we head into Labor Day and the fall with riders returning to jobs, cultural events, schools—and transit."

Now, responsibility for the future of mass transit and New York's economy will be up to Kathy Hochul, the state's lieutenant governor who will become governor in two weeks following Cuomo's resignation.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Cuomo tried unsuccessfully to change MTA leadership to consolidate power, but state lawmakers balked

  • Cuomo appointed Janno Lieber, the MTA's construction chief, to become its acting chairman and CEO after his failed attempt to restructure MTA leadership

  • Lieber, in a letter to MTA staff, wrote that he and Albany legislative leaders on the transportation committee are working closely with congressional leadership in Washington about infrastructure spending bill

"If this thing sputters or doesn't work well, we're endangering the entire financial health of New York state," MTA Board member David Jones told NY1.

Jones says Hochul has an opportunity to mend strained relationships with state lawmakers and leaders in the city, particularly the next mayor, after Cuomo and the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, publicly fought over transit.

"We're very hopefully that this is going to be a time, both through the staff leadership and the governor and the new mayor, that we work collaboratively, that it doesn't become sort of an 'I gotcha' kind of problem, because the ridership really needs it,” Jones said.

This opportunity follows Cuomo's recent reshuffling of MTA leadership at a pivotal moment in its recovery from a pandemic that kept millions of commuters off trains and buses.

Hochul has the power to nominate a new MTA leader and a voting majority of five MTA board members.

John Samuelsen, a one-time labor ally of Cuomo who sits on the MTA board, said Hochul should appoint new board members to at least replace one of his former top aides, Larry Schwartz and Linda Lacewell, the state financial services chief — both of whom he said enforced Cuomo's micromanagement style on the agency from their board seats.

"Their presence will absolutely ensure massive labor management problems we see flaring up constantly over the past couple of years," Samuelsen said in a phone interview.

Schwartz defended Cuomo's record at the MTA, for putting billions of dollars into maintenance and operations, plus finishing the Second Avenue subway and keeping the L train running while the Canarsie tunnel got repaired.

He said he'd stay on the MTA Board if Hochul asked.

"She's a friend, I've known her a long time,” Schwartz said in a phone interview. “I am a New Yorker, I want do what I can to help the state of New York and the people of New York. If she wants me to stay on for a period of time, I'm happy to do that.”

Whatever Hochul decides for the MTA, Lieber says in his letter that "I’m committed to the mission, I will have your back, and we will all be there tomorrow, next month and in the years ahead for riders who count on us to come through for them every day."


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