(Bloomberg) -- Joseph Lhota resigned as chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the multi-billion dollar agency that controls city and state commuter transit.
Lhota, 64, who continued to serve as senior vice president and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center, returned to the agency a year ago after running it in 2012, when he oversaw the recovery after Hurricane Sandy flooded the system’s subway and vehicle tunnels. He also remained on the board of directors of the Madison Square Garden Co., whose holdings include Radio City Music Hall, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.
In his most recent stint, he ran a crisis-ridden subway system characterized by frequent breakdowns, delays and track fires, hobbled by the hurricane’s damage and technological obsolescence after decades of under-investment in maintenance.
The resignation comes days after Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Republican Lhota twice, won re-election to a third term. MTA Vice Chairman Fernando Ferrer, a former Bronx Borough President, will take over as an interim acting chairman.
In a prepared statement, Lhota said he took the job for the “sole purpose of halting the decline of service and stabilizing the system for my fellow New Yorkers.”
Under his leadership the agency embarked on an $800 million emergency repair program this year, and he installed a new management team that included the recruitment last year of Andy Byford to head the New York Transit Authority, a subsidiary of the MTA that operates the city’s subways and buses.
The emergency plan has produced a 34.8 percent decline in major subway incidents causing delays this year compared with last, Lhota said. Total train delays fell to the lowest point since February 2016 in September. “There is still a long way to go to achieve the performance that New Yorkers demand and deserve,” he said in his statement.
Earlier this year, Byford outlined a 10-year program to bring the subways up to an a level of service equal to systems in London, Paris or Singapore, which he later estimated could cost as much as $40 billion. Funding issues have been stymied along partisan lines in the state legislature for years. In January, Democrats will assume control of both the state Senate and the Assembly.
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