Cuomo Forms Committee to Search for Next MTA Chief

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a search committee to find a replacement for outgoing Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder, who abruptly announced his resignation last month.

In October, Walder will leave his post to become CEO of MTR Corporation, a deep-pocketed private rail company in Hong Kong.

Among those asked to sift resumes and conduct interviews as members of the committee are former Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary Mortimer Downey, former Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch and MTA watchdogs Gene Russianoff of The Straphangers Campaign and Bob Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association.

The group has a much wider span than Cuomo's transportation transition committee, which had no planners or transit advocates among its membership.

If the past is a guide, Cuomo will choose the next chair of the nation's largest transit system from one of two broad categories: a politically connected ally or campaign donor, like his choice to head the New York Thruway Authority; or a high-profile transportation professional in the mold of Walder and his predecessor, Eliot Sander.

Cuomo has spoken sparingly about transportation policy โ€” his first months in office were marked by other priorities, like tax cuts, an on-time budget and gay marriage โ€” so it is difficult to divine his leanings.

But transit watchers have noted with interest that the governor, in putting together his search committee, has reached out beyond government officials and other usual suspects.

For more on the forbidding list of tasks that will face the next chairperson of the MTA, go to this story in Transportation Nation.