MTA chief Thomas Prendergast Wednesday praised the president of Metro-North, Howard Permut, at the last board meeting before his retirement this week.

Permut, a 30-year veteran of the MTA who has worked at Metro-North since the agency's creation in 1983, became president in 2008.

"Howard's career spans the entire time that Metro-North has been an institution, a time in which the railroad improved service and doubled its ridership and got it to where it is today," Prendergast said.

Permut's final months at Metro-North saw a deadly derailment in the Bronx and several major service disruptions. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating Metro-North's safety culture following the derailment.

Permut's successor, Joe Giulietti, was the executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. He takes over the reins at Metro-North Feb. 10.