By TimesLedger Staff
Gov. Andrew Cuomo chose former MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota to resume his old post as head of the transit agency Wednesday in a surprise move that was approved by the state Senate later that evening.
Lhota left his job as chairman in 2013 to run on the Republican ticket in the mayoral race against Bill de Blasio, who won by a handy margin.
Cuomo was rebuffed by several MTA board members at a Manhattan meeting Wednesday on the subway transit crisis for trying to gain more control of the agency that governs the subways, buses, bridges, tunnels, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North. He already has the most members appointed to the board.
The governor, who had remained quiet as the subway breakdowns escalated and derailments at Penn Station interrupted train travel, jumped into the arena recently to take public responsibility for the city’s transit meltdown.
Cuomo had been under pressure to name a permanent head of the MTA — a position which had been vacant since January. Lhota is a seasoned professional who knows the ropes at the MTA, but faces a tough challenge with the dysfunctional subway system and the summer work at Penn Station, which will inconvenience thousands of LIRR riders.
Even as the state Senate in Albany prepared to go home empty-handed on key issues such as mayor control Wednesday night, the Senate’s Finance Committee gave its blessings to the Lhota appointment.