Former MTA Head Says NY's Infrastructure Was 'Terrible'

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The former head of the MTA told reporters on the first day of his new job that New York's transit system was cash-strapped and crumbling when he took it over three years ago.

"New York, when I arrived there, was in a financial crisis," Jay Walder, who left the MTA in October to run Hong Kong's well-funded rail system, said on Tuesday. "The system simply did not have enough money to continue to operate. The assets were not being renewed. And the infrastructure was in terrible condition."

He added: "What I did was to be able to right that financial basis and to be able to put the system back on firm financial footing."

Walder, who took over in 2009,  presided over some of the most severe cuts to the city's transit system in a generation, ending dozens of bus lines, shutting down two train lines, ending weekend bus service in some areas and making trains noticeably less frequent. He also eliminated 3,500 jobs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Walder's management Thursday, and said the MTA has started to make some improvements. He also said the agency is in good hands with Joseph Lhota, Jay Walder's successor.

Lhota's confirmation hearing is coming up Monday in Albany.

To hear Jay Walder's comments to the Hong Kong media, go here.