Today’s news:

Cuomo fills vacancy on board of MTA by naming Paterson

Former Gov. David Paterson has been appointed to the MTA board. AP Photo/Seth Wenig
TimesLedger Newspapers

Former Gov. David Paterson has been appointed to the MTA board to fill the slot vacated by Nancy Shevell, wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo named the 57-year-old Paterson, a former state senator and the state’s first black governor, to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

Paterson, who is legally blind, has worked as a talk show host since he left office in 2010.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota hailed the appointment.

“I applaud Gov. Cuomo’s nomination of former Gov. David Paterson to the board of the MTA,” Lhota said. “I have known the former governor for 35 years and look forward to the opportunity to work with him again.”

The appointment of Paterson is subject to approval by the Senate.

Paterson took over as governor in 2008 when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a sex scandal. During Paterson’s tenure, he faced massive financial problems and numerous controversies.

Shevell’s last day on the MTA board was Jan. 25, when she bade an emotional goodbye to her colleagues at the agency’s monthly meeting.

In other transit news:

• The Long Island Rail Road said it would halt the sale of alcoholic drinks aboard trains leaving Penn Station between midnight and 5 a.m. on weekends in a drive against drunkenness and “rambunctious behavior.”

The LIRR said the pilot program was announced after two railroad personnel were attacked by drunken commuters recently. The alcohol ban will apply to trains leaving Penn Station on Friday and Saturday nights.

• Disabled persons eligible for Access-a-Ride transportation would get free MetroCards under an MTA plan to encourage use of buses and subways.

The agency said it could save as much as $96 million annually under the plan. The idea is to reduce the number of people using Access-a-Ride, which is vastly more expensive and on which trips must be arranged 24 hours ahead. Caregivers or other escorts would ride for free.

• Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer says the transit system needs a new subway line that would connect the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn in a way none now does.

Stringer, a possible mayoral candidate, also called for the return of the commuter tax as a way to solve the MTA’s chronic financial straits.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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