While New Yorkers are still working their way through the many stages of grief after the resignation of Andy Byford, the MTA has chosen Sarah Feinberg to take helm as interim NYC Transit president.
If Byford’s resumé was impressive, Feinberg has rail cred of her own that she earned at the federal level.
At the Federal Railroad Administration, Feinberg served as the second woman in history to lead the agency, and held a number of posts in the Obama administration; one of them being Chief of Staff for U.S. Department of Transportation.
At a press conference at Fulton Transit Center on Wednesday, MTA Chair Pat Foye said Feinberg was picked out of the agency’s board members for the position, but Feinberg says her job as a mother guided her decision to fill the role on a temporary basis.
“To our millions of riders, I hear you, I see you and I’m one of you,” Feinberg said. “Jobs like this don’t always make sense for people with small children, which is where I am in my own life. So this is the right thing to do on an interim basis… But I want to continue doing everything I can to help the system.”
Feinberg’s appointment, starting March 9, does not come without some activist support.
Danny Pearlstein, policy director at the Riders Alliance, said Feinberg was a strong choice for the MTA and that she has the experience expected of someone directing the largest transit system in North America.
“Sarah Feinberg is an experienced transit professional seasoned in the ways of government,” Pearlstein said. “Riders are looking for her to continue the progress of the past two years by cutting delays, speeding up trains, and completing the MTA’s historic bus network redesigns.”
Feinberg has been on the MTA board since February 2019, but will be stepping away from that role while serving as president.
As FRA administrator, Feinberg is credited with enforcing safety regulations that saw the implementation of Positive Train Control and oversaw multi-billion dollar investments; two of those being the largest loans in the history of U.S. DOT. According to the MTA, she also directed efforts at the FRA toward addressing the opioid crisis, though in what capacity, they did not say.
From 2009 to 2010, Feinberg was a held the position of Senior Advisor to White House chief of staff Rham Emanuel.
According to Foye, who insisted Feinberg was his choice rather than Governor Andrew Cuomo’s, the search will continue for a permanent replacement for Byford in the meantime