Sarah Feinberg tapped as new MTA chair: official

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Sarah Feinberg — who led the city’s subways and buses through the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed for more cops underground amid a rash of violence — is set to be nominated as the first woman to serve as the MTA’s chair, a senior agency official told The Post on Tuesday. 

Feinberg, 43, began her tenure in March 2020 as interim head of the MTA division that runs the city’s subways and buses, the official told The Post. 

Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nominated her to oversee the entire state agency — replacing Pat Foye, the official said. Her nomination must be approved by the state Senate. 

Feinberg said in a statement that she looks forward to shaping transportation in the region.

Foye — who previously held the roles of both chairman and CEO of the MTA — is expected to be appointed interim president and CEO at Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm, according to the agency official. 

The changes are expected to take effect July 30, the official said.

Janno Lieber, the MTA’s chief development officer, will be appointed to serve as the agency’s chief executive. He will oversee day-to-day operations, in addition to his current role overseeing construction and development, according to a senior MTA source. 

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye
Pat Foye has thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio for the additional police presence on the subway.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Lieber also said he looked forward to his new role. The two Cuomo allies will be the first Chair-CEO duo since the mid-2000s.

Feinberg will step out of her operations role as she becomes chair of the board, the source said.

Lisa Daglian, of the MTA’s in-house citizens advisory committee, described Feinberg and Lieber as a “strong team.”

“They’ve got the governor’s trust and the governor’s ear, and that’s what they’re going to need to continue to move the system forward,” Daglian said.

“It’s been a hell of a year for everyone,” she added. “A lot happened, a lot got done. The light at the end of the tunnel is a train that is running on time … Pat deserves the opportunity to do something else. Janno has definitely demonstrated his leadership skills. Sarah has really demonstrated her ability to get through a crisis, and the crisis isn’t over.”

The Chairperson/CEO roles are currently one job, and require a vote by the state legislature to be split in two. State legislators introduced a bill late Monday night to bisect the roles, but it’s already picking up heat from the governor’s critics.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) said she plans to vote against the bill, as well as the appointments of Feinberg and Lieber.

“The governor has the most power over the MTA and is yet to fix it,” Ramos said. “Giving him more power won’t do a damn thing.”

The proposal is a “terrible idea,” MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch told The Post.

“This is a body that has to make unpopular decisions. It has to borrow money, incur debt, [and] use revenues that would otherwise be available for education and healthcare to subsidize the transportation system,” Ravitch said.

“The authority has to raise fares. Having a board of people who are independent, who serve for fixed terms, is the only way a government agency can ensure the type of independence that is more likely to lead to integrity.”

Both Feinberg and Foye have pushed for a bigger NYPD presence on the rails amid a surge in transit crimes. 

Pat Foye Sarah Feinberg
Both Foye and Feinberg have pushed for a larger police presence on the subways amid a surge in crimes.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that 250 cops would be temporarily added to patrol the Big Apple subways.

He said the move will bring the number of cops patrolling the underground to 3,250.

Officials said the new officers would extend their shifts and work overtime to cover the transit system during the morning and evening rush hours.

Foye said he thinks the subway system needs “more beyond that,” but thanked the mayor for the additional cops and said “the dialogue between the MTA and the state and the city should continue.”

Feinberg said she would “take the mayor’s word” that over 1,000 cops had been added to the subways since February, despite the confusing numbers.

“If he says those folks are going to the system, I think that’s good news and I’ll trust him,” Feinberg said.

Subway ridership plummeted by 90 percent from pre-pandemic levels as COVID-19 first gripped the city in March and April 2020. 

It has rebounded but remains well below where it stood before the pandemic, when delay-induced crowding was a nearly daily experience for most commuters.

Foye said in a statement that he is proud of the way the MTA’s 70,000-strong workforce carried front-line workers throughout the pandemic. 

Riders Alliance executive director Betsy Plum said the MTA’s new leadership has their work cut out for them.

“Governor Cuomo is responsible for providing New York’s millions of riders with fast, frequent, and affordable public transit service,” Plum said in a statement. “It’s also his job to fix the subway, making it reliable and accessible to all New Yorkers.”

“The governor’s new leadership at the MTA needs to focus on the basics: Upgrading subway signals, making stations accessible, and delivering seamless public transit service to the millions of riders who need it now and the many more returning each day.”

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