It may be several weeks before Governor Cuomo selects a permanent leader of the MTA. Until then, the agency's new interim chief executive is getting a tryout for what would be a historic role. Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has the story.
MTA chief Thomas Prendergast made his exit on Tuesday after 25 years with the country's biggest transit agency.
Now comes the chore of finding who next will oversee the sprawling regional network of transit lines, bridges and tunnels.
"It's a very tough job," said MTA Board Member Charles Moerdler. "A successor has to be somebody who understands the politics of balancing the needs of riders and unions and management and the state and the city."
For now, the day-to-day role of running the agency falls to Ronnie Hakim, the first female president of New York City Transit, the MTA unit that runs the subways and bus line.
Many believe she has the inside track to become the first woman to head the entire MTA.
"I think there's a lot of confidence in Ronnie to run the agency and I assume also that she is on the short list to run it," said Tom Wright, with the Regional Plan Association.
"No it's not her job to lose," Moerdler said. "It's her job to gain and I think she has the ability to gain it."
The job comes with intense pressure from politicians and the public, and the risk of burnout.
Prendgast lasted nearly four years, one of the longer runs by a chairman.
Whoever is next will wrestle with subway overcrowding and delays, aging equipment, and funding fights.
"It's a job that requires some political skill, because you have to have the credibility to go to Albany and make the case to the Governor and the legislatures that the public transit needs funding and it needs laws passed so that the folks who work in transit can do their job," said John Raskin with the Riders Alliance.
Hakim declined to comment, but she spoke to NY1 last year, when she returned to the MTA following a stint running New Jersey Transit.
"It's great to be back," Hakim said during an appearance on In Transit. "I love being back at New York City Transit. It is a full arc for me professionally."
As for the outgoing head of the MTA, his duties at the agency aren't wrapped up just yet. He's now part of a search committee that in the next few weeks will be making recommendations to the Governor as to who his replacement should be.