Pat Foye, the Port Authority’s outgoing executive director, will become MTA president, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
Foye, of Port Washington, will assume the newly created executive role at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, working with chairman and Long Island-raised Joseph Lhota, the source said. The MTA’s acting executive director, Veronique Hakim, is also expected to stay on in a leadership role.
During an appearance on Fox 5 Wednesday, Lhota confirmed the leadership shakeup is under way, but that no role changes have been finalized. Lhota reasoned that, because he still works full time as an executive at NYU Langone Medical Center, he’ll need to bring on Foye to help revive the beleaguered transit system.
“I’m going to create an office of the chairman. Ronnie Hakim will be managing director. She will be in charge of the operations of all of the subways,” Lhota said. “Pat will be the president — I hope. None of this is set in concrete yet. What’s been reported in the papers is a little premature, but it’s the direction we’re going in.
Lhota said that Foye will be in charge of “innovation” and will guide new projects that will bring the subways and commuter rail lines “into the 21st century.”
“So they’re going to have very, very distinct roles,” Lhota said. “I believe because of the fact that I’m doing this on a part-time basis, I need to put together a team of people.”
Advocates praised Foye and Hakim’s new roles, but said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo must ultimately assist the MTA, a state agency, by finding new revenue streams to fund improvements.
“With Pat Foye and Veronique Hakim’s appointments, Governor Cuomo has assembled a strong team to lead the MTA,” said Nick Sifuentes, deputy director of the Riders Alliance, in a statement. “Ultimately, though, it will be up to the governor to ensure the MTA leadership team has the resources it needs to fix our subways — including a dedicated funding source for the improvements riders desperately need.”
The governor’s office declined to comment on the situation.
Foye had served the Port Authority since 2011 and played a key role in blowing the whistle on the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, known as Bridgegate, which took place over the course of four days in September 2013. His tenure also saw the completion of the controversial $4 billion Oculus transit hub in Manhattan, which critics have derided as a waste of money.
Foye’s departure at the Port Authority came amid sweeping leadership changes at the bi-state agency on Tuesday. Governors Cuomo and Chris Christie of New Jersey announced that both Foye and Port Authority Chairman John Degnan would be replaced this week.
Rick Cotton, special counsel to Cuomo, has been named the agency’s new executive director. Kevin O’Toole, a former Republican state senator from New Jersey, has been tapped to serve as chairman.
With Alfonso A. Castillo
Check back for updates on this developing story.