Now that MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow has announced his resignation, the newspapers are assessing his tenure. And the verdict is that Kalikow did usher the MTA into an era of high ridership and capital improvement and help ed set up many big projects (Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access). But he also oversaw the agency during the transit strike.

The Straphangers Campaign's Gene Russianoff tells the NY Times, "He ended up with probably what was the worst labor relations in the 25 years we’ve followed the system. It was, I think, purely Pataki politics that dictated what happened.” And in a nod to Kalikow's background as a rich real estate developer, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Jonathan Orcutt tells amNewYork, "The model of having a rich guy who doesn't need to be paid heading the MTA will probably go by the wayside."

Kalikow acknowledged it was a tough job, saying, “I could actually take my jacket off and show you the bruises to prove it.” The Post has an editorial that acknowledges some of Kalikow's problems, but ends it with, "If the next MTA chairman is as adroit at managing these complex projects as his predecessor was in starting them, New York will be fortunate indeed. As fortunate as the city has been to have had Peter Kalikow at the MTA for the last seven years."

And the NY Times' William Neuman reminded of us a "colorful" Kalikow moment. Here's how Newsday described it back in 2003:

"We could pee in our pants now... But we're going to face it again next year, guys," he said at the breakfast gathering sponsored by West Side Chamber of Commerce.

That was all a way of saying that that no matter what the courts decide, subway and bus base fares will have to stay at $2, or jump even higher next year.

...[I]n response to a question from a reporter in the audience about whether the agency might settle out of court with fare hike opponents, he related a story his grandfather once told him about his childhood.

"It was minus 10 degrees," Kalikow began. "He was bundled up and the snow was 40 feet high. Then all of a sudden he had to take a pee. What does he do? If he unbuttons his 50 layers of clothing, he'll freeze to death. He doesn't want to do it, so he says 'Lemme just go.' "

Guests at Tavern on the Green shifted in their chairs. Most had just finished eating a breakfast of waffles and bacon.

"Guess what? The urge now was gratified," continued Kalikow. "It felt warm and comfortable and soft. And he says 'This is pretty good.' Then ten minutes later it freezes."

The next MTA chairman will not wield as much power at Kalikow, and it was even a possibility that the job of MTA CEO and executive director Elliot Sander would also include the chairmanship, but Spitzer will select a part-time chairman. The Sun says that Spitzer may select Elizabeth Moore, currently a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP and was previously a counsel to Governor Cuomo.

Photograph of Kalikow by Jori Klein.