The longtime transit industry leader who helped shepherd New York City's subways through the COVID-19 pandemic and who has sparred with the mayor lately over rising violence on the trains, will be nominated to take the helm of the MTA, agency sources with knowledge of the plans told News 4 Tuesday.
Sarah Feinberg, currently the interim president of New York City Transit, will be the first woman to lead the nation's largest public transit agency. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will nominate her to the post, where she will confront a longtime troubled financial situation devastated further by the pandemic and heavy declines in ridership.
Subway, bus and commuter rail ridership plunged by more than 90% after the pandemic first hit but has rebounded a bit as of late. Still, COVID-related anxiety and ongoing violence issues have some New Yorkers leery of resuming a straphanger's life. Transit officials say it's safe to return to the subway system and they're still taking extra precautions to keep everyone on board healthy.
It'll be part of Feinberg's message to help drill that message home. The state Senate must confirm her nomination to replace Patrick Foye as MTA chairman. Janno Lieber, currently VP of Capitol Projects, will become CEO, the sources said.
Foye, who currently holds both titles, is expected to be named interim president and CEO of Empire State Development, the umbrella organization for New York state's two principal economic development public-benefit corporations.
The planned changes would take effect on July 30, News 4 has learned. The developments were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Feinberg was a member of the MTA Board before becoming interim president of New York City Transit. Founder of a tech sector-focused consulting practice, she formerly served as administration of the Federal Rail Road Administration.
Then-President Barack Obama nominated her for that post, which was confirmed by a Republican-led Senate at the time.
Earlier in her career, Feinberg was U.S. Department of Transportation chief of staff, where she provided strategic advice and counsel to the secretary of transportation. Prior to that, she was a special assistant to then-President Obama and a senior adviser to his former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. During that stint, she helped shape the White House's strategic communications response to the nation's economic crisis, the H1N1 flu pandemic and other administration challenges.
Feinberg has also spent several years on Capitol Hill and served on the Amtrak Board of Directors while working with the FRA.