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Stop playing games with the MTA leadership
Interim NYC Transit president Sarah Feinberg has reached the end of the line.
The West Virginia native told The Post that, effective Friday, she is stepping down from her temporary position running the nation’s largest subway system, seventeen months after she succeeded popular transit boss Andy Byford.
She said the job, which she held as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the city’s transit system and left more than a 100 transit workers dead, has cut severely into the time she can spend with her family.
She would, however, consider staying on with the state as MTA chair, a new position that she would likely be considered for if the state Senate decides to split the agency’s top job into two roles.
“Now’s a good time to make my exit — and to either find other ways to serve, if the Senate chooses to act, or to or to move on,” Feinberg said. “At this point I have been doing it for 18 months, and it’s important for me to get back some other pieces of my life.”
Feinberg said running NYC’s subways and buses is “24/7 job,” which limits the time she can spend with her three-year-old daughter.
“You are not serving New Yorkers well unless you are on call 24/7 and you are owning every rush hour, owning every signal delay and paying attention to every project, and thinking constantly about how you can make sure that customers, riders and your workforce are safe,” she said. “That is a hard thing to explain, because I absolutely think women and mothers should do these jobs, but it is a 24/7 job.”
The former Facebook staffer and federal rail regulator under President Obama still hopes the state senate changes state law to allow Cuomo to split the MTA Chairman-CEO job in half and appoint her chair and MTA construction boss Janno Lieber CEO.
She said the chair role would allow her “to continue to serve New York… but also be able to live my life in a way that allows me to be the kind of parent and partner that I also need to be.”
The two jobs were briefly split from 2006 to 2009, but were melded back together after state commission called the arrangement “ill-advised” and not “sufficiently independent.”
“You should have more hands on the wheel. You should have more talented experienced senior folks running an agency this size,” she said of the leadership “bifurcation” plan, which is opposed by the MTA’s largest union.
“There are very few large companies or organizations that decide there should be one single point of failure, or one single person in charge of an entire multi tens of thousands-person workforce, multi-billion dollar organization.”
Sources in Albany have said senators are unlikely to act — in which case the governor will appoint an interim leader when incumbent MTA head Pat Foye leaves at the end of July.
Feinberg hopes her legacy is “leading the agency through the darkest days of COVID,” she said.
The virus officially arrived in New York days after she accepted the gig and has since killed 168 MTA employees. Over 10,000 transit workers missed work in March and April 2020, when the virus peaked in New York City, forcing thousands of train cancellations.
Feinberg initially expected the “temporary” gig to last “three to six months,” she said; COVID-19 instantly changed that.
“I think it was almost immediately that I realized that COVID was going to be extremely serious for New York, and extremely serious for New York City Transit and that this was likely to be a longer term assignment,” she said.
“The greatest challenge was the personal impact — the fact that so many men and women in New York City Transit got sick, the fact that so many of our colleagues passed away.”
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