Op-ed | A farewell message from the outgoing MTA chair and CEO

traffic safety
MTA Chairman Patrick Foye.
Photo by Todd Maisel

With my time as MTA Chair and CEO coming to a close, I want to take the opportunity in this final column to thank you, our valued customers, for trusting us and riding with us over the last four years. It has been an honor to lead this critical agency – one that affects the daily lives of millions of New Yorkers.

Transit is not only the circulatory system of this region fueling its economic engine, but also a great equalizer, helping to improve equity and access by connecting our customers to job and educational opportunities, social and cultural activities, health care and more.

As the region’s recovery continues and I move on to lead the Empire State Development Corporation, I know the MTA will continue to be there for New Yorkers, as it has always been. There will be new leadership, but the mission remains the same. Simply put, our customers and dedicated workers are the lifeblood of our system and our primary focus, as they have been for 117 years.

The importance of transit has only been heightened by the pandemic. I am proud to have led the MTA at a time when New Yorkers needed safe and reliable public transportation more than ever. In the darkest days of COVID, the MTA carried doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, grocery and delivery workers, our own transit heroes, and so many more so they could show up to perform their essential duties and pull us through this unprecedented crisis.

The dedicated men and women at every level of the MTA, from our heroic workers on the front lines and smart and tireless staff at agency offices to our partners in labor, are the definition of public servants. They’ve shown the nation and the world what it means to be New York Tough, and I am humbled by their hard work and determination.

It’s thanks to them that we faced the greatest challenge in MTA history and came out rising to recovery on the other side. The same goes for the brave men and women of the MTAPD and NYPD’s Transit Bureau.

It was a tremendously moving capstone to my tenure to celebrate these colleagues at the Hometown Heroes ticker tape parade earlier this month. Riding the vintage 1903 wooden train up the Canyon of Heroes was a poignant moment that I will always cherish. It brought to mind the service and sacrifice shown by all, but especially by the 168 members of the MTA family lost to COVID. I will never forget them.

Now you can do your part by coming back to the system—a system that is safe, affordable, and open 24/7 to get you where you need to go. We’ve seen ridership begin to rise significantly and expect to make further gains in September as businesses bring back more employees, tourists return as Broadway fully reopens and students come back to in-person classes.

So again, a sincere thank you. This isn’t really goodbye–I’ll still be out there riding the rails as a commuter as I’ve done for years – but it is the start of a new chapter. I look forward to seeing you in transit.

Patrick Foye is the outgoing chair and CEO of the MTA.