MTA Chairman Peter S. Kalikow announced that he is stepping down from his position as chairman of the MTA. Kalikow, who was appointed by then Governor George Pataki back in 2001, was reappointed to a 6-year term last summer, which suggested there might be battles ahead between him and new governor Eliot Spitzer. But at the end of 2006, Kalikow said he would step down during the second quarter of this year, after finishing up some projects, like the Second Avenue Subway. Here are some quotes from the MTA press release:

“I am a firm believer in setting aggressive goals, accomplishing those goals and then giving others the opportunity to both expand upon those initiatives and create new ones with fresh vision and new energy,” said Kalikow. “As both a longtime public servant and an avid supporter of term limits as a means to maintain healthy and effective government leadership, I believe the public will be best served by my decision.”

Governor Eliot Spitzer added, “I would like to thank Peter Kalikow for his service to the State and the MTA, and for working cooperatively with MTA Executive Director and CEO Lee Sander since his appointment in January. I will be looking for a new chairman who will help oversee Lee's ambitious plans for the agency.”

Chairman Kalikow thanked Governor Spitzer for his support. “The Governor and I have spoken several times since his election. He has a tremendous commitment to mass transit and the MTA. His recommendation of Lee Sander for Executive Director and CEO only solidified my view of this commitment. Quite frankly, Lee assuming this role made my decision easier, since I know that under his leadership, the system is in good hands. Lee’s expertise and passion have made a vital contribution to public transit in this region.”

Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director and CEO, stated, “Peter Kalikow has made an invaluable contribution to the MTA, most notably fighting for the 2005 Bond Act and the capital dollars needed to begin building Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. Peter has been a great asset to me personally in my first few months on the job, and I wish him all the best.”

Aw, it's so nice that everyone can play nice with each other now. We can't wait until the statement from the Transit Workers Union!

Kalikow has led many important MTA projects, which are listed after the jump, as well as presided during a time of very high ridership. But we can't help but remember moments like the holiday discount program, cooked accounting books, his thoughts on subway platform temperatures and, of course, the transit strike. And if you check out the Straphangers' Campaign MTA Accountability Petition, you can see other things that people remember.

And Kalikow was not paid as MTA chairman - he makes megabucks as president of HJ Kalikow, a real estate firm; he is also a collector of Ferraris. Here's a 2004 New York magazine article about him and a 2005 NY Times piece.

Kailkow's accomplishments, from the MTA:

o The Second Avenue Subway, a previously abandoned project that was revived out of a strong need to improve transit options on the East Side of Manhattan and help the City meet the immense and growing citywide transportation needs of the 21st Century.
o East Side Access, which will enable Long Island Railroad passengers to use Grand Central Station.
o Extension of the #7 subway line to the far West Side of Manhattan.
o Quick restoration of post 9/11 public transit and the subsequent creation of the Fulton Transit Center and the extensive renovation of the South Ferry Terminal, which both continue to help revitalize Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11.
o Billions of dollars in federal funding that resulted from a new relationship between the MTA and Washington.
o Creation of the MTA Capital Construction Company to ensure the timely and cost-effective completion of MTA capital projects.
o Purchase of 4,400 subway cars, commuter rail cars and buses, transforming one of the oldest fleets in the nation to one of the newest.
o Purchase of 500 hybrid buses, underscoring the MTA’s commitment to a cleaner environment.
o Creation of MTA Bus, which successfully took over the private bus lines, improving service for thousands of daily bus commuters.
o Successful passage of the 2005 Bond Act, demonstrating the public’s confidence in the MTA’s ability to complete major capital projects.
o Increase of the MTA police force and implementation of technologies to better ensure the safety of commuters.
o Overhaul of the budgetary process by improving transparency, accountability and public access to MTA budget plans