Joe Lhota's First Day at the M.T.A.

As of today, Joe Lhota is driving the M.T.A.

The former Giuliani budget director said in a brief statement sent out to the press that his first order of business is getting a handle on the organization, no doubt so he can get to work streamlining it, as many hope he will.

“The MTA is the engine that drives our economy and makes our way of life possible here in New York, and we have a responsibility to operate our service as efficiently and effectively as possible. The MTA is facing a number of difficult fiscal and operating challenges, including funding our vital capital program and continuing to improve service in tough economic times. My focus in the next couple of months is understanding this organization from top-to-bottom, and listening to our employees, customers, and community leaders as we work together to shape an agenda and improve this vital service for all New Yorkers.”

Mr. Lhota has his work very much cut out for him. He must close a $10 billion budget gap; fend off efforts from upstate pols to rollback the payroll tax, which accounts for roughly one-eighth of the agency’s budget; all the while keeping major capital projects like the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access on track. Oh, and keeping fares from rising and service being cut yet again would be nice, too. His first official act of business? A letter to the city’s district attorneys urging them to crack down on crimes against transit workers, according to The Daily News.

All aboard the Lhota Express. Or is this train just running local? Ah, but slow and steady wins the race. (All right, enough with the mixed metaphors.)

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC