Former MTA Chairman William Ronan dies

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NEW YORK – Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman William J. Ronan has died at the age of 101.

Ronan was appointed as the first chairman of the agency – then known as the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority – in 1965 by New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. A well-known advocate of public transportation, Ronan was key to the expansion of transit options in the New York metropolitan area during his tenure at the MTA and his later work as head of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

“Bill Ronan was a legend in the field of public transportation and an inspiration for everyone who understands that mass transit is the engine that powers New York,” says MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “His vision of how an integrated transportation system can improve the region, and his skill in turning that vision into reality, have made life better for millions of our customers every day. We at the MTA send our deepest condolences to his family, and remember his service fondly.”

Ronan was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 8, 1912, and attended schools in upstate New York, including Syracuse University, where he graduated in 1934. He received a doctorate from New York University in international law and diplomacy. He later became a professor and dean at New York University, where he established what is now the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He met Rockefeller two years before the latter became governor of New York, and became his private secretary in 1958.

Under the Rockefeller administration, Ronan helped set up the Tri-State Regional Transportation Commission, which was created as a transportation group to serve the commuting needs of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In 1965, Ronan had been the governor’s representative at negotiations to purchase the Long Island Rail Road from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Ronan served as the head of the MTA from March 1968 to April 1974, when he became chairman of the port authority.

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