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DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg resigning from MTA board

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is resigning from her post on the MTA's board of directors. She was slated to serve on the board through June 30, 2023. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The city’s Department of Transportation commissioner is resigning from her post on the MTA’s board.

Polly Trottenberg, who will keep her city gig, submitted her resignation from the board on Monday, June 3, and will officially step down once a successor is confirmed.

“My resignation will be effective upon the nomination and Senate confirmation of a successor who can ensure that New York City maintains a full four-member delegation on the Board,” Trottenberg said in a statement. “I thank Mayor de Blasio for the opportunity to serve the millions of MTA riders — and I look forward to continuing to work closely with Chairman Pat Foye and the MTA as NYC DOT Commissioner.”

The MTA’s board of directors is the somewhat obscure governing body of the transit authority. It includes 17 voting members who oversee MTA budgetary and policy decisions, such as large construction contracts and fare hikes. Trottenberg, a respected transportation professional, is heralded by many as the board's voice of reason. She is also one of the few female voices on a mostly white and male board.

Trottenberg began her tenure on the board after being nominated by Mayor de Blasio. She was one of several board members that flagged concerns with the MTA’s controversial Enhanced Station Initiative, which drew outrage from advocates who felt the project prioritized cosmetic subway station improvements over improving wheelchair access.

“We think Polly has been a good voice for riders’ interests — especially for riders with disabilities when it came to the Enhanced Station Initiative,” said Ben Fried, spokesman for the advocacy group TransitCenter. “So her voice is going to be missed, no doubt.”

Trottenberg was slated to serve as a board member through June 30, 2023. Her two-sentence resignation letter did not include her reason for stepping down.

De Blasio is nominating Bob Linn, the city’s former Office of Labor Relations commissioner, to fill her seat, as well as Dan Zarrilli, the mayor’s chief climate policy adviser, to fill the seat vacated by Carl Weisbrod.

“I am pleased to announce I am nominating Bob Linn and Dan Zarrilli to the MTA board. Their dedication to public transit will serve New Yorkers well, and help get our subways and buses moving,” de Blasio said in a statement. “I also want to thank Polly Trottenberg for her service. I am confident that she will continue to advocate for the all-of-the-above transportation system our city needs.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo must now decide whether to submit the mayor’s nominations to the State Senate, which is in charge of confirming MTA board picks.

“She was able to be a good countervailing force on the board,” said Rachael Fauss, a senior research analyst at Reinvent Albany. “She raised really important questions and is a good counterbalance to the governor, who has a large controlling influence over the board.”

Fried said he hoped the mayor’s two new picks strive to emulate Trottenberg’s approach to the board.

“Being DOT commissioner is a huge job,” Fried said. “If there is any silver lining to this, we hope the transportation commissioner can have even more of a laser focus on improving transit on city streets.”

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