NY MTA Chief To Step Down And Run For Mayor

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Joe Lhota (Photo: Stephen Nessen, WNYC)

UPDATED Joe Lhota, the head of the largest transit agency in the U.S., is stepping down to run for New York City Mayor, less than a year after he was officially confirmed for his current job.

"I will be submitting my resignation to Governor Cuomo today," Lhota said Wednesday after an MTA board meeting where fare hikes were approved.  Lhota said the resignation will take effect December 31 and he will "explore"  a run for Mayor.   Lhota descried the decision as "bittersweet."

The move roils both the Mayor's race and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority as it struggles to recover from storm Sandy, described by the Republican Lhota as "the worst devastation in our 108-year history." The NY MTA is estimating its damage at $5.2 billion, not including ways to fortify the system against future storms.

It also leaves New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the uncomfortable position of choosing a new transit chief as he begs Congress for $60 billion in recovery aid. Lhota was selected after a large committee interviewed several candidates, then sent its top recommendations to the Governor.

Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer,  who was elected Wednesday to serve as the Vice Chair of the MTA board, will now serve as its acting chair.  Ferrer was the Democratic candidate for Mayor himself in 2005.

Lhota, an ex-deputy Mayor under Rudy Giuliani, has also worked for Madison Square Garden, a subsidiary of Cablevision.

Word comes, literally, on the eve of the MTA's vote to hike fares and tolls.

You can read the full story on the WNYC website.