Paterson’s MTA pick hails from Rockaways

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Jay Walder, who grew up in the Rockaways and has already had what some transit advocates call a distinguished transit career in New York and London, has been appointed head of the MTA.

His appointment is subject to approval by the state Senate.

Gov. David Paterson appointed the 50-year-old Walder Tuesday in Manhattan, suggesting he would be “helping achieve fiscal solvency as well as greater transparency and public accountability.”

The job to which Walder was named is one that has been consolidated to include two posts, those of chairman and CEO/executive director. The chairmanship is now held by Dale Hemmerdinger and the CEO/executive directorship was, until this past May, occupied by Elliot Sander, a Douglaston resident.

Sander resigned after Paterson proclaimed his administration would “clean up and clean out” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“With Jay’s record of ingenuity and his familiarity with global transportation systems, including the MTA, he will bring new life to the organization to better serve all its customers,” Paterson said.

Walder was with the MTA in several capacities, including the post of chief financial officer from 1983-95, and achieved some fame in transit circles for his development of the Oyster card, a non-contact transit card and possible successor to the MetroCard.

He also served as a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, specializing in transportation, and as a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore in the 1999-2000 academic year.

From 2000-06, Walder was managing director of finance and planning of Transport for London. He was responsible for the successful operation of business and planning and led implementation of the widely successful Oyster card, now the most popular contactless smartcard in Europe; helped create a $20 billion capital investment program for London Transport; and served on the board of Crossrail, a new $30 billion long-term rail line in London.

Walder is a graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton and earned a master’s in public policy from Harvard as well as completeing the executive program in Strategic Leadership from Templeton College at Oxford University.

“I want to thank Gov. Paterson for his confidence in me,” Wilder said. “One of the most rewarding experiences of my career was to serve as part of the MTA’s rebuilding program and the opportunity to return to the city where I grew up and where I spent much of my career is truly special and exciting. I look forward to working each and every day to ensure that the people of this great city have access to a transit system that is safe, efficient and effective.”

“You can say I am familiar with our subways,” Walder said. “I grew up in the Rockaways and almost across the street from the subway.”

Walder was born in Indianapolis, but his family moved to New York City before he was a year old. He lived in Arverne attended Beach Channel High School in the Rockaways.

Transit advocacy organizations generally applauded the choice of Walder.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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