MTA chief nominee meets with LI senators

Interim MTA Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast speaks Interim MTA Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast speaks to the media about repairs and the future of MTA storm damage prevention post superstorm Sandy. (May 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Interim MTA executive director Thomas Prendergast met with Long Island's nine state senators Wednesday in an attempt to persuade the lawmakers to approve his confirmation as head of the agency.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo picked Prendergast to lead the agency two months ago, but he has yet to be confirmed by the State Senate. Long Island's all-Republican Senate delegation has expressed concerns about the Penn Station Access project possibly increasing congestion at Penn Station.

The project would run up to 10 Metro-North Railroad trains per hour into Penn Station during morning rush hour by 2019. State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), head of the Senate Transportation Committee, has said he would oppose the plan unless he is assured that the Long Island Rail Road will not be harmed by the Penn Station plan.

Prendergast met with Fuschillo, the eight other Long Island senators and Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) to discuss Penn Station plan, fares, parking and other MTA issues, said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif. He declined to speculate when a confirmation vote could happen.

"This is part of the process, and it's not unusual for the transportation chairman and other senators to review the governor's nominee," Reif said. "They are reviewing the governor's nominee for a very important position."

The state legislative session is scheduled to end on June 20. Democratic and Republican sources both said privately that they would like to see a vote on Prendergast's confirmation by then.

The meeting between Prendergast and Senate Republicans was "productive," said Matthew Wing, a Cuomo spokesman. He declined to comment on the prospects for a confirmation vote.

"They had some questions," Wing said.

Acting MTA chairman Fernando Ferrer took over the MTA in December after Joseph Lhota announced plans to seek the Republican nomination for mayor of New York City.

A spokesman for the MTA declined to comment on Prendergast's confirmation.

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