NEW YORK CITY — Just a day after the opening of the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway, the head of the city’s transit system announced that he would be stepping down.
After more than 25 years with the MTA, agency chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast will retire in early 2017, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Chairman Prendergast was an extraordinary public servant,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Monday press conference. “I don’t think you can fill his shoes."
Cuomo nominated Prendergast, a transit veteran who previously served as president of NYC Transit for three years, to be MTA chairman in 2013.
Prendergast served as the authority's interim executive director after Joe Lhota stepped down to run for mayor. He has held many positions at the MTA, including chief of the System Safety Department, the agency’s Chief Electrical Officer and president of the Long Island Rail Road.
At the start of his term, Prendergast agreed to serve as chairman for three years, but he extended his term to see through the completion of the Second Avenue Subway, Cuomo said Monday.
The new subway line opened to the public on New Year's Day after nearly a century of planning.
“Opening the Second Avenue Subway this weekend was a crowning achievement for the MTA and I'm proud to have been a part of such a historic moment,” Prendergast said in a statement.
“It has not only changed the daily commute for hundreds of thousands of customers, it has helped change the face of the MTA — showing the public we can meet the deadlines we set for ourselves.”
Prendergast has led the MTA through Hurricane Sandy-related repairs — including the announcement of the controversial L train shutdown — as well as the modernization of the city’s stations. Each of the city’s stations was slated to be equipped with Wi-Fi by New Year’s Eve.
“I'm also proud of the work we have done to integrate new technology into all aspects of our system to keep up with the growing needs of our riding public and of the way we recovered and fortified our assets from the devastating damage left behind by Hurricane Sandy,” Prendergast said.
Cuomo said he would be looking for a transit system operator who also had experience as a developer, and that he is looking to fill the position within “weeks.”