After Hurricane Sandy paralyzed New York City's subway system, New Yorkers intent on moving around the city resorted to a stodgy old standby: the bus.
Commuters had no choice, unless they wanted to bike or drive (and risk the gridlock and gas lines). Without the subway, the city and state had no choice either but to create special accomodations for mass transit's unappreciated stepchild.(7)
Six years and two chairmen ago, when George W. Bush was still president and George Pataki the governor, the M.T.A. tested out a new technology that promised to hasten commutes and lessen the authority’s overhead: a smart card.(2)
Behind the scenes, M.T.A. engineer-in-chief Mike Horodniceanu builds a new transit system, as long as Joe Lhota can bring in the money
Of Lhota, Horodniceanu said that he “is a really smart man,” and that the two have already met twice.
It's plain to see why someone in his position might want help on the money score. Disinterest from the governor's office and a lack of funding to pursue major projects were among the reasons multiple reports cited for Walder's exit; they were also, according to the Daily News, the reasons Horodniceanu's predecessor, Mysore Nagaraja, left the post in 2008.
“He’s not a transportation guru, but, you know, that’s why we exist," Horodniceanu said of his new boss. "I’m an engineer, he doesn’t need to be an engineer. I need him to help me get the money. And that’s important.”(1)
Andrew Cuomo may not have the most cordial relationship with Michael Bloomberg. But when it comes to the philosophy he employs in making appointments, the governor does seem to be following the mayor's lead.
In particular, the governor’s recent selection of two men with substantial private-sector accomplishments, and far less transportation-and-infrastructure experience than their predecessors, to lead the MTA and the Port Authority follows the Bloombergian pattern of business-savvy non-specialists for top, highly specialized public positions.
About a week ago, Port Authority executive director Chris Ward met with secretary-to-the-governor Larry Schwartz to tell him he was leaving, and to discuss how to coordinate their schedules and their press, according to a Port Authority source.
Ward waited a week to hear back from him, according to the source. Schwartz blew him off. Yesterday, the story got out. The administration went ballistic.
Cuomo's schedule doesn't indicate a lot of time spent on issues related to the MTA or Port Authority
According to the information about Andrew Cuomo's schedule available on his new website, CitizenConnects, the governor has had little to no facetime with either Port Authority executive director Chris Ward or outgoing MTA chairman and CEO Jay Walder, who is leaving his post, and the New York area, for the sunnier environs of Hong Kong, possibly because of the governor's lack of any obvious interest in him or his job. Ward's relationship with Cuomo is also said to be virtually nonexistent.
When the New York Post reported in late May that Governor Cuomo was planning to can Port Authority executive director Christopher Ward, the man widely credited with transforming the symbol of public-private incompetence known as Ground Zero into a functional development site, the cries of disapproval were near instantaneous.
Everyone seems to agree that Jay Walder has been a very effective head of the M.T.A., which under his leadership continued to provide a functional transportation system and build for the future, even as enormous budgetary pressure necessitated cuts in spending and service. But no one seems to know why Walder leaving, exactly.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority probably gets its fair share of vitriol from residents of New York, and then some. It's an easy target: a massive bureaucracy run by an unelected board, whose structure, funding and operations are not particularly well-understood by people who don't deal with transportation policy for a living. Also, most people don't like commuting.(1)