Patrick Foye and the Port’s New Start

Governor Cuomo has nominated Patrick Foye, one of his top aides, to the post of executive director of the Port Authority. Mr. Foye brings to the post a solid background in economic development and a strong background in politics. That’s a good combination, but he’ll also need to be a reformer if he is to succeed in revitalizing this important bistate agency.

Mr. Foye’s nomination coincides with Mr. Cuomo’s call for the Port Authority to take over the long-delayed conversion of the Farley Post Office building into a new rail station named for the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The Moynihan Station project has been kicking around since Moynihan was still in office. All these years later, his vision of a suitably grand station to replace the awful pit known as Penn Station remains unrealized.

But that’s not the only task awaiting Mr. Foye. The Port Authority needs to modernize the region’s transportation infrastructure and retool the agency for the 21st century. But these improvements have to be managed properly—the agency simply cannot rely on periodic fare increases to subsidize waste and inefficiency. The recent toll hikes on Authority tunnels and bridges produced a justified backlash against the agency—Mr. Foye, with any luck, was paying attention to the outcry.

Like so many other managers in both the public and private sectors, Mr. Foye has to figure out how to be creative and efficient with his assets. The Port Authority remains, in theory anyway, a model of interstate cooperation and regional planning. But fulfilling the Authority’s mandate requires more than a budget. It requires reform and innovation.

Mr. Foye will be judged not by what he builds, but how he builds it.