New York's MTA Chairman Joe Lhota ResignsNovember 9, 2018
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
Joe Lhota has resigned as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the latest in a series of departures from the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he prepares for a third term.
Fernando Ferrer, the MTA’s current vice chairman, will take the reins as acting chairman of the authority’s board and will run its meeting on Thursday, according to a state official.
Mr. Lhota, 64 years old, was appointed chairman of the authority last year amid rising delays on the New York City Subway. But he accepted the assignment on a part-time basis, retaining his job as chief of staff at NYU Langone Health, and delegated responsibility for much of the day-to-day operations of the authority to President Patrick Foye and managing director Veronique Hakim.
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In a statement, Mr. Lhota said he took the position for the “sole purpose of halting the decline of service and stabilizing the system for my fellow New Yorkers.” He touted an $800 million emergency repair package that he crafted in his first month, as well as a new executive team he put in place.
In September, the number of total train delays fell to the lowest point since February 2016, Mr. Lhota said. “There is still a long way to go to achieve the performance that New Yorkers demand and deserve,” he said.
The state official said the governor’s team and the MTA would immediately begin a search for a new chairman. The search comes at a time of turnover in Mr. Cuomo’s administration: Commissioners of three state agencies acknowledged this week that they were leaving their posts, and more departures are expected.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Mr. Lhota had considered resigning earlier in his tenure, as journalists and good-government groups began to raise questions about the potential conflicts of overseeing the authority with his outside activities. Mr. Lhota denied this.
Mr. Lhota received $1.6 million in compensation from the hospital system in 2017 for duties that included lobbying, and received compensation totaling $160,000 from the company that owns Madison Square Garden, which sits atop Penn Station, a hub of subway lines and commuter railroads.
An MTA spokesman said Mr. Lhota never took the $1 a year he was offered for the chairman’s job.
Watchdog groups like Common Cause New York have filed complaints with state ethics agencies, but they have resulted in no action against Mr. Lhota. Mr. Lhota has said his work as a per-diem MTA employee allowed him to hold the outside positions.
—Paul Berger contributed to this article.
Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com