Czar alert! Yesterday the state Senate confirmed Jay Walder for the position of chairman and CEO of the MTA. That's equivalent to rank of czar, according to the Post, which reports that Walder told lawmakers he "will be back" to try and wrest $10 billion from Albany for the MTA's five-year plan, which includes finishing the fabled Second Avenue Subway. The Senate's 47-13 vote was preceded by some debate, during which Democratic Staten Island Senator Diane J. Savino spoke for her constituents: "There is a level of discontent that exists between the M.T.A. and the people in this room, the people who should be your partner."

Walder, a Queens native who was formerly the financial executive for the MTA and London's transit system, told the Times, "I went in with the expectation there would be a very robust and vigorous confirmation process, and that’s exactly what happened." His annual salary, negotiated by the governor's office, will be $350,000, plus $22,000 in a retirement account and a housing allowance for up to one year. But despite Sen. Savino's rancor, she joked that Walder deserved more money, telling him, "After listening to us for the last few weeks, I actually think you should ask for a raise."

The new boss is vowing to "shake up" the Authority, telling the Senate, "It's my intention to form a management team, bring new people into the MTA with a broad range of experience and success in different parts of the world." His combined position of CEO and Chairman is a new one, with a fixed six-year term, and officials hope it will give him the independence to make "difficult, even unpopular decisions." Assemblyman Richard Brodsky from Westchester says that because Walder is a board member with fiduciary duty to the MTA, "he's responsible to the MTA, not to the governor."

Walder's plans include creating an easier way for riders to pay fares, and installing more "countdown clocks" at subway stations and bus stops—he says that studies in London found riders felt three-times worse waiting when they didn't know how long the delay would be. It's unclear exactly how that triple-worse feeling was quantified, but nevertheless, Walder forsees a glorious day when "we don't have to have everyone peering down the street looking for the next bus or peering over the track to see if a light is coming."

Meanwhile, yesterday the MTA asked a judge to throw out the transit workers' contract, claiming that the arbitration panel that put together the contract last month miscalculated the MTA's finances. For one thing, the MTA apparently had a $75 million rainy day fund at some point, but that's all dried up.