Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday the nomination of Thomas Prendergast to become the next chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Thomas Prendergast has been president of New York City Transit since 2009, but his ties to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority go all the way back to 1982, when he joined the MTA as assistant director of system safety.
On Friday, the governor nominated Prendergast to be the next chairman and CEO of the whole operation, including the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North. The position hasn't had a permanent occupant for more than 100 days, since Joe Lhota departed after less than a year on the job to run for mayor.
The choice of Prendergast drew praise from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called him an effective leader with a deep understanding of the MTA's operations.
James Vacca, the head of the City Council's Transportation Committee, agreed.
"The appointment of Mr. Prendergast today is great news for straphangers, and it's great news for the MTA," Vacca said. "We have someone of the highest caliber that will be at the helm of the the MTA. It's one of the most difficult jobs in America."
Transit watchdogs said Prendergast is a no-brainer to run the country's largest transit system, which serves nearly 8.5 million commuters daily.
"He's been the senior vice president for several years. He knows the agency back and forth," said Gene Russianoff of Straphangers Campaign. "He's a good choice."
The choice of Prendergast even won praise from the Transport Workers Union, which has had a rocky relationship with past MTA chairmen. The union praised his vast knowledge of what makes the MTA go.
In a statement, the union said, "We've always had a good working relationship with Prendergast, despite a few flare-ups here and there. But on the whole, everyone on this side of the table respects him."
Commuters may not know Prendergast by name, but they do know what they want from the next MTA chairman.
"Security, more security," said one commuter. "They say that there's going to be more security going around, but I don't see that happening."
"I just feel like it needs to be a little cleaner," said another. "And also, lower down the fares, because they just keep increasing."
Prendergast still has to be confirmed for the job by the state Senate. His nomination is expected to sail through.