(Bloomberg) -- New York’s Senate confirmed Janno Lieber to head the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as the nation’s largest public transit system struggles to boost subway ridership and improve farebox collections.

Lieber has been serving as the MTA’s acting chief executive officer and chairman since July, when his predecessor Pat Foye left to head Empire State Development. Lieber was previously the MTA’s president of Construction and Development, executing its capital plan.

Senators confirmed Lieber on Thursday, in a 56-7 vote. The chamber also approved Elizabeth Velez, president of her family’s construction company, to the MTA’s board. 

The MTA needs strong leadership as it seeks to restore ridership to pre-pandemic levels, address safety issues on the New York City subway system and modernize infrastructure to improve service and attract riders. It also faces a potential $1.4 billion deficit in 2025 when federal pandemic relief runs out.

Weekday subway ridership is about half of pre-pandemic levels as residents continue to work from home and avoid the system during the omicron-fueled wave of Covid cases.

This past weekend, a woman died after being pushed in front of an oncoming train at the Times Square subway station. Harassment and assaults have increased throughout the system during the pandemic. While the number of total major felonies on the subway system decreased in 2021 from prior years, there were 423 assaults from January to November of last year, the most since 1997, according to MTA data.

Lieber has the support of transit advocate groups because of his experience executing large-scale projects. He helped rebuild the World Trade Center site as president of World Trade Center Properties LLC from 2003 to 2017. 

Governor Kathy Hochul nominated Lieber and Velez this month. Lieber was former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pick to lead the MTA.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.