MTA to be run by Ronnie Hakim, Fernando Ferrer until new chairperson is selected

A seven-person committee will help Gov. Andrew Cuomo find a new MTA chairman, the governor announced Monday.

And while the governor searches to replace Chairman Tom Prendergast, who is retiring from his position on Tuesday, his office also announced who’ll be running the show.

Ronnie Hakim, the MTA’s New York City Transit president, will be appointed as interim executive director. Fernando Ferrer, the agency’s vice chairman, will serve as interim chairman, according to a news release from Cuomo’s office issued Monday.

“Ronnie Hakim is ready to embrace the challenge of running the nation’s largest transportation network during this transition,” Cuomo said in a statement. “She is a true transportation professional who has dedicated her life to improving the commute for millions of New Yorkers and I am confident that in this new role she will continue doing that as we reimagine and modernize the MTA for the 21st century.”

The new committee will be reviewing and recommending candidates to the governor “in the coming weeks,” according to a news release. Its members include transit experts and former high-ranking executives from the MTA and Port Authority:

•Tom Prendergast, chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

•Joseph Lhota, senior vice president and vice dean, chief of staff of NYU Langone Medical Center and former chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

•Fernando Ferrer, vice chairman of the MTA Board.

•Kathryn Wylde, president and chief executive officer of Partnership for NYC.

•Scott Rechler, chairman, Regional Planning Association and former vice chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

•John Samuelsen, executive vice president of the Transport Workers Union.

•Rodney Slater, former United States Secretary of Transportation.

Despite her current interim status, Hakim is being considered as a permanent replacement for Prendergast, who served as both chairman and CEO, sources familiar with the search have said.

Prendergast, who has worked for the agency for 25 years, was given a standing ovation at his last board meeting held earlier in January. He was praised by board members as a technocratic leader who understood the exacting details of the agency’s transit network and applauded by advocates who said he gave them a more welcoming seat at the table.

“It’s a tremendous honor to work in public service,” said Prendergast, who has stated that he’s leaving the post to spend more time with his family. “You feel good at the end of the day that you’ve done something for the people to help them with their life.”

-By Vincent Barone   [email protected]