William Ronan

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William Ronan
1st Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
In office
March 1, 1968 – April 26, 1974[1]
GovernorNelson Rockefeller
Malcolm Wilson
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byDavid L. Yunich
Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
In office
GovernorHugh Carey
Preceded byJames C. Kellogg III[2]
Succeeded byAlan Sagner
Personal details
Born(1912-11-08)November 8, 1912
DiedOctober 15, 2014(2014-10-15) (aged 101)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Spouse(s)Elena Vinadé (d. 1996)

William John Ronan (November 8, 1912 – October 15, 2014) was an American public servant and academic who founded and served as the first chairman of New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, from 1968 to 1974. He subsequently served as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1974 until 1977 and remained on the board of the Port Authority until 1990.[3][4] Prior to entering state government as a key aide to Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York in 1958, he was a professor of government at New York University and served as dean of NYU's graduate school of public service from 1953 to 1958.[3][5]


Ronan graduated from Syracuse University in 1934, and earned a doctoral degree from New York University in international law and diplomacy. He became dean at NYU and helped establish the Wagner School of Public Service from 1953 to 1958.[6]


Ronan helped found the Tri-State Transportation Commission. In 1965, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority by Governor Nelson Rockefeller.[7] The newly formed MCTA purchased the Long Island Rail Road from the Pennsylvania Railroad.[8]

On February 29, 1968, the MCTA published a 56-page report for Governor Rockefeller, and in it, proposed several subway and railroad improvements under the name "Metropolitan Transportation, a Program for Action".[9][10][11][12] Chairman Ronan pushed for the MTA to pursue the Program for Action, saying, "We're making up for 30 years of do-nothingism".[13] The next day, the MCTA dropped the word "Commuter" from its name and became the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA took over the operations of the other New York City-area transit systems and Ronan became chairman of the MTA.[14][15]

During Ronan's tenure, the MTA oversaw the construction of three lines as part of the Program for Action: the 63rd Street Line,[16][17][18] part of the Second Avenue Subway,[19][20] and, the Archer Avenue Line.[21] The MTA also shut down the Third Avenue elevated line in the Bronx.[22]

Later life[edit]

After stepping down from the Port Authority, Ronan left public life, retiring to Florida, became a widower after his wife of 57 years, the former Elena Vinadé, died in 1996. He died of natural causes at his house in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 15, 2014, at the age of 101.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "Past MTA Board Chairs". Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  2. ^ Doig, Jameson W. (2001). Empire on the Hudson: Entrepreneurial Vision and Political Power at the Port of New York Authority. ISBN 9780231076760.
  3. ^ a b Chan, Sewell (October 17, 2014). "William J. Ronan, Architect of the M.T.A., Dies at 101". The New York Times. p. A18. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  4. ^ Gelinas, Nicole (October 23, 2014). "Savior of the Subways". City Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  5. ^ Vlachou, Marita (October 22, 2014). "In Memoriam: Former Wagner Dean". Washington Square News. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "First Chairman of MTA William Ronan Passes Away at Age 101". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 17, 2014.
  7. ^ "ROCKEFELLER NAMES RONAN TO RAIL JOB; Aide to Governor to Head New Agency at $45,000" (PDF). The New York Times. June 22, 1965. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  8. ^ "STATE TAKES OVER THE L.I. RAIL ROAD; Finishes Paying the Pennsy --Re-elects All Officers" (PDF). The New York Times. 1966. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Full text of "Metropolitan transportation, a program for action. Report to Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York."". Internet Archive. November 7, 1967. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  10. ^ Annual Report. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 1970. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Bennett, Charles G. (February 29, 1968). "Transportation Funding Would Have 4 Sources; Plan's Financing Would Be Varied" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  12. ^ Witkin, Richard (February 29, 1968). "$2.9-BILLION TRANSIT PLAN FOR NEW YORK AREA LINKS SUBWAYS, RAILS, AIRPORTS; 2-PHASE PROPOSAL Program by Governor Calls for $1.6-Billion in First 10 Years 2-PHASE PROPOSAL FOR TRANSIT GIVEN" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "Ronan Lays Transit Crisis To a 30-Year Lag in City; Ronan Lays Transit Crisis to 30-Year Lag in City" (PDF). The New York Times. August 25, 1968. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  14. ^ Penner, Larry (July 15, 2014). "Happy 51st Birthday To Queens Public Transportation". Queens Gazette. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  15. ^ "M.T.A. TAKES OVER TRANSIT NETWORK; Moses Will Be Kept On as Consultant to Agency" (PDF). The New York Times. March 2, 1968. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  16. ^ "To Break Ground For 63rd St., East River Tunnel". New York Leader-Observer. Fultonhistory.com. November 20, 1969. p. 8. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  17. ^ "Laurino, Hails Tunnel As Key To Queens Future". New York Leader-Observer. Fultonhistory.com. November 27, 1969. p. 2. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  18. ^ Associated Press (November 24, 1969). "Subway Tunnel Started". Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. New York City. Fultonhistory.com. p. 17. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  19. ^ Second Avenue Subway: Timeline. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  20. ^ "Second Avenue Subway". web.mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  21. ^ 1968–1973, the Ten-year Program at the Halfway Mark. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 1973.
  22. ^ "The New York Transit Authority in the 1970s". nycsubway.org.
  23. ^ Chan, Sewell (October 17, 2014). "William J. Ronan, Architect of the M.T.A., Dies at 101". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 7, 2018.