Today Governor Andrew Cuomo named Tom Prendergast Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Prendergast had been serving as interim executive director of the agency for more than three months, since Joseph Lhota departed at the end of last year to run for mayor. Prendergast, like previous MTA chiefs Lee Sander and Jay Walder, brings deep experience in transit management to the job.
Prendergast has a long career at the MTA, where he worked in various positions from 1982 to 2000, before departing for Parsons Brinckerhoff and, eventually, the top position at TransLink, the regional transportation agency in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2009, he returned to the MTA, where he has run the city’s subway and bus systems as head of New York City Transit.
His tenure at the MTA has some advocates hopeful that Prendergast, who will be the fourth MTA leader in as many years, will end the instability atop the agency. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, in a statement applauding the appointment, expressed hope that Prendergast “remains in the role longer than two years.”
Calling it “long overdue,” Transportation Alternatives also welcomed the announcement, noting Prendergast’s role in launching recent Select Bus Service routes. Prendergast was also the force behind Fastrack, which began the practice of weeklong nightly closures on subway lines to expedite maintenance.
The appointment was not a surprise to transit advocates, many of whom had quietly expressed their support for Prendergast. What remains notable is that Governor Cuomo took 102 days before making an announcement about the vacancy. After the departure of Jay Walder in 2011, the governor formed a search committee and the Senate confirmed Lhota three months after the vacancy opened.
After Senate confirmation, Prendergast is expected to resume contract negotiations with Transport Workers Union Local 100, which have stalled since Lhota’s departure, and he will have to soon tackle the formation of the MTA’s next five-year capital plan for maintenance and expansion.