Joe Lhota is slated for a return to his post as MTA chairman, but what do experts and advocates think about his appointment to lead the beleaguered transit system? NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has the details.
It's Take Two for Joe Lhota as MTA Chairman.
He returns as he left four-and-a-half years ago: with the transit system under siege — this time not because of Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters, but severe overcrowding and delays.
"The subway is clearly in crisis. Delays are out of control, crowding is getting worse," said John Raskin, the executive director of advocacy group the Riders Alliance. "It's a tough job."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Lhota on Wednesday for a surprise return to the post he held for 11 months.
"He satisfies what folks on the MTA board, and what the governor, is looking for in terms of somebody who knows finance, said John Samuelsen, the president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 in New York. "He recognized that there definitely has to be new streams of money coming into the MTA. That's a no-brainer."
On NY1 on Tuesday, Lhota was asked if he would return:
"I'm available to help and consult," he said on the Road to City Hall. "Full-time? No thank you."
Which is pretty much what will happen; Lhota will take in $1 a year as MTA chairman while still remaining full-time in his position as senior vice president at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Some advocates wonder how successful Lhota will be when he's not quitting his day job.
Day-to-day operations will be overseen by someone else — perhaps Ronnie Hakim, who has held that job on an interim basis since March.
Joe Lhota as a not-full-time MTA Chair/CEO who is retaining his job at NYU Langone and maybe delegating CEO function is a weird thing.— Second Ave. Sagas (@2AvSagas) June 22, 2017
Former MTA Chief Dick Ravitch questioned whether Lhota can be independent enough from the man who appointed him, the governor, to demand more badly-needed funding.
"It will be nice to have his voice. I think the question is how vigorously he will petition the political system in the state of New York to provide the resources necessary to restore the system," said Ravitch, who was chairman from 1979 to 1983.
Eliot Sander, a former MTA executive director, called it a smart rehiring, but added that Lhota needs to surround himself with savvy transit types.
"The governor is clearly demonstrating that he wants to have more accountability for himself, more control over the agency," Sander said in a phone interview.
Now straphangers will see if Lhota the Sequel outlasts the original.