MTA Chairman Jay Walder, who brought innovative features to the city’s subways and buses even while struggling with the worst financial peril in the agency’s history, has resigned to take over a Hong Kong-based company that operates rail systems in Asia and Europe.
“I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and former Gov. Paterson for the honor of serving the people of New York state,” said Walder, who will leave office Oct. 21.
Walder, 52, got praise for introducing features like the pay-before-boarding Select Service super express buses, countdown clocks on subway platforms, real-time information on when subways and buses would arrive and a new, information-packed Metropolitan Transportation Authority website.
But Walder also presided over three fare increases, a monumental overhaul of the transit agency, a consolidation of the MTA’s seven companies and the elimination of more than 3,500 positions in a campaign known as “Making Every Dollar Count.” The MTA said it expected the result would be $3.8 billion in savings by 2014.
On his watch, some of the heaviest cuts in bus and subway service were carried out, including elimination of the V and W subway lines in Queens.
Appointed by Paterson in July 2009, Walder, who grew up in the Rockaways, had earned renown for his leadership at Transit for London, where he expanded bus service, installed a money-saving fare collection system and designed a transit plan experts said helped to bring about the selection of London as the site of the 2012 Olympics.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Walder was “a world-class transportation professional and any city in the world would have been lucky to have him. He is a first-class leader with big ideas and we will miss collaborating with him.”
Cuomo, who will select a successor to Walder subject to approval by the state Senate, said, “Jay Walder has shown true leadership at the helm of the MTA and been a fiscally responsible manager during these difficult financial times.”
Speaking of his new job, Walder said, “This is an exciting opportunity for me to lead a publicly traded, multinational corporation with a broad set of business activities.”
The MTA said the MTR operates commuter rail systems in Hong Kong and intercity rail services from Hong Kong to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong in China. The MTR also operates rail systems in London, Stockholm and Melbourne, Australia.
The company reported revenue of $3.8 billion in 2010 with $1.1 billion in profit.
Walder was paid $350,000 as head of the MTA. His predecessor at MTR earned $1.8 million, according to some Hong Kong press reports.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledge
©2011 Community News Group
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