MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye may be the new head of New York City’s public transit, but when riding the 6 a.m. train from Port Washington, he is just your average commuter.
“I’ve been riding the subways since I was literally an infant and have been riding the LIRR for the past 30 years,” Foye said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “Except for two years when I lived in Europe.”
Foye continues to ride both the LIRR and the subway every day, he said.
The chairman was nominated for the role by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and was later confirmed by the state Senate and Assembly to begin his new job April 1.
He previously served as the president of the MTA, beginning in August 2017 after a six-year run as the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Foye, who is a lawyer, said the MTA is an entity that touches the lives of millions of people every day and as a decades-long patron of its services he brings that first-hand experience to his position.
He succeeds Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer, who served after Joe Lhota resigned in November during his second stint at the helm of the largest public transportation system in the nation.
The MTA runs New York City’s subways, buses, bridges and tunnels and two commuter railroads, the LIRR and Metro-North.
Foye, who is a large proponent of Central Business District Tolling, discussed the MTA capital plan and what it means for Long Island.
He said for the 2020 capital plan, there is $32 billion earmarked for the MTA when in previous years that figure was zero.
Of those funds, 10 percent will be used to improve the Long Island Rail Road, which will result in an increase in the number of trains and services along LIRR train lines, the replacement of substations to boost reliability, and the completion of Positive Train Control.
Positive Train Control is a federally mandated safety technology that is designed to eliminate hazards that could result from human error.
The chairman said that LIRR riders will also experience a 45 percent increase in rider capacity into Manhattan as a result of the completion of the third track and more trains. All railroad stations will also be made handicap-accessible.
Foye said LIRR commuters should care about the MTA system as a whole because half of them do not end their ride after leaving the doors of an LIRR train. He said that 50 percent of LIRR commuters continue onto other MTA services once arriving into New York City.
When asked about East Side Access, which will bring LIRR trains into Grand Central, Foye said its completion is a really important priority of the MTA.
But he said it has been a “terribly disappointing project over a period of years.” The MTA has now gotten control of the project and imposed discipline, he said, but there are a “lot of lessons that have to be learned and will be learned from the way that East Side Access was previously handled.”
Outside contractors have estimated that about $1 billion worth of work is left before the project’s completion.
Despite his lifestyle, Foye still has made time to serve his community. He previously sat as a member of the Port Washington school board and on the Port Washington Library Board.
He said he and his family are “big users and fans” of Port’s library.