‘I hope I won’t be leading very long’: Fernando Ferrer, the new temporary M.T.A. chief

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Ferrer at City Hall. (Azi Paybarah)
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"I hope I won't be leading very long," said Fernando Ferrer, who, starting January 1, will serve as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's interim chairman.

Today, the M.T.A. board, of which Ferrer is a member, voted to make the former Bronx borough president and two-time mayoral candidate its vice-chair, which means that once Joe Lhota leaves at the end of the year, Ferrer will be its acting chairman.

That will put him in charge of the sprawling mass transit system of subways, buses, trains, bridges and tunnels that 8.5 million people use on a daily basis.  

Ferrer will occupy the position until Governor Andrew Cuomo appoints a new chairman.

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Asked today if he wanted to be that new chairman, Ferrer said, "No."

Lhota is leaving the M.T.A. to consider a run for mayor, and he's doing so at a delicate time.

The M.T.A.'s finances are precarious, particularly in light of the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

Ferrer, nevertheless, said he's not worried that the "interim" label will make him a less effective advocate for the M.T.A., especially in Washington, where Congress is still debating the region's hurricane relief package.

"No, I am not concerned in any way about that," he said.

Why not?

"This isn't my first rodeo, you know?" he said. "I've been thrust into difficult situations before. You do the best you can, but we have an extraordinary team here, and I'm confident in them."