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Gov. Cuomo Picks Former NYC Deputy Mayor For MTA Chief

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - A former New York City deputy mayor has been nominated to serve as chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

Cuomo picked Joseph Lhota to head the nation's largest transit agency. Lhota served as deputy mayor for operations under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, managing the day-to-day affairs of the city and supervising city agencies.

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"Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers,'' Cuomo said. "I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service for New Yorkers.''

Lhota, whose nomination has to be approved by the state Senate, would replace Jay Walder, who stepped down for a position in the private sector. Cuomo said Lhota's salary would be cut 5 percent from the previous level of $350,000 per year.

Lhota also served as the city's budget director, as well as the commissioner of finance. He has been a board member of the MTA. In his current position, Lhota is the executive vice president of administration for the Madison Square Garden Company.

"Millions of New Yorkers depend on the MTA every day and they deserve the most efficient and effective service'' Lhota said. "Throughout my career in both the public and private sectors, I have initiated reforms that are performance-based and that cut costs, and I look forward to bringing this same approach to the MTA.''

Gene Russianoff, of the commuter advocacy group the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said Lhota "has the necessary financial, political and management experience to be a good MTA Chairman and CEO. We riders will be counting on him and will judge him on his accomplishments on our behalf.''

In searching for a new MTA head, Cuomo took the unusual step of creating a search panel instead of simply announcing his choice.

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On Thursday, he also announced the choice of Nuria Fernandez to be chief operating officer of the MTA, and Karen Rae to be the deputy secretary of transportation in the governor's office.

The MTA operates the New York City subway, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and buses in the city and Long Island, a transit system that carries more than 8 million riders on a typical weekday.

On Wednesday, Cuomo announced he was nominating Patrick Foye, one of his top economic development aides, to run the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Current MTA chairman Jay Walder's last day is Friday.

In July, he announced his resignation. He will go on to become CEO of the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong. It operates rail services in Asia and Europe. Walder officially starts there on January 1, 2012, but will be named CEO Designate on November 1, 2011.

Do you have something to say about the selection of a new MTA chairman? Sound off in the comments section below.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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