Transit Advocates Welcome Nomination of Janno Lieber as MTA Chair

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Janno Lieber will be the next chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, pending approval from the New York Senate.

Lieber has held down the fort as interim chair since Pat Foye stepped down in June 2021 to run the Empire State Development Corp. Gov. Kathy Hochul nominated Lieber last week to run the agency on a permanent basis.

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Before leading the MTA, Lieber was the agency’s chief development officer where he oversaw major projects such as the expansion of the Long Island Rail Road between Floral Park and Hicksville in Nassau County, and the East Side Access that will extend the LIRR into Grand Central Terminal from Queens.

But it’s his work as a champion for congestion pricing which has Regional Plan Association President Tom Wright most excited.

“New York City doing congestion pricing is essentially showing the nation how to move forward in a new direction, both to manage the limited supply of our street space and to create new revenue streams [for the MTA],” Wright said. “Janno has shown enormous sophistication and leadership on this issue.”

Wright said he believes that having a leader in the agency with a background in building out the region’s transit system will be the best bet as New York recovers from the pandemic.

“Janno has been all along a prime advocate for saying that even as we bring the system up to a state of good repair, even as we modernize the subway signals and put in more bus express lanes, we also need to be able to do the long-term capital projects that create more capacity and more coverage,” Wright said.

From 2003 to 2017, Lieber was president of World Trade Center Properties, where he managed planning, design and construction aspects of Silverstein Properties’ rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after the attacks on 9/11.

Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy organization, also applauded Lieber’s nomination, but said that in order for him to be successful, Hochul should ensure that the needs of the MTA are met.

“Janno is a seasoned leader at a crucial moment for the transit system,” Riders Alliance policy and communications director Danny Pearlstein said. “The governor must make sure he has the resources necessary to make transit as attractive as possible by providing affordable, frequent and accessible service.”

It’s unclear when the state Senate will take up Lieber’s nomination. 

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.