Mortimer L. Downey, whose artistic financing helped revive New York Metropolis’s subway system and who additionally oversaw far-reaching regional and federal transportation coverage for greater than six a long time, died on Thursday at a retirement dwelling in Oakton, Va. He was 87.

The trigger was pulmonary fibrosis, mentioned Kelley Coyner, a buddy, former colleague and spokeswoman for the household.

Mr. Downey turned an unintended transportation skilled after failing to obtain any gives from the banking and monetary establishment recruiters he interviewed with as a pupil at Yale within the late Fifties.

As an alternative, he enlisted as a administration trainee with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, his first step on a highway that will take him to Washington, the place he turned the U.S. Transportation Division’s longest tenured deputy secretary, serving from 1993 to 2001, below Secretaries Federico Peña and Rodney Slater through the Clinton administration.

Because the division’s chief working officer for eight years Mr. Downey performed a job in initiatives reminiscent of reforms to Amtrak and the drafting of the Transportation Fairness Act of 1998, the most costly public works laws ever handed by Congress. It approved an outlay of $217 billion (about $413 billion in at this time’s {dollars}) and granted localities extra flexibility in spending federal funds on mass transit.

“I do know of no particular person in current historical past who contributed extra to our nation’s transportation and mobility methods than Mort Downey,” Mr. Peña mentioned in an e mail.

Within the Eighties, Mr. Downey was instrumental in devising three methods that generated billions of {dollars} for mass transit in metropolitan New York at the same time as town and state have been nonetheless reeling from town’s mid-Seventies brush with chapter. With Richard Ravitch, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman, Mr. Downey persuaded the bond market that an company that was shedding cash on each experience would increase fares or resort to different means to repay no matter it borrowed by itself.

“This credit score was the basic constructing block of rebuilding the system,” mentioned Jay Walder, who succeeded Mr. Downey because the M.T.A.’s government director and later served as chairman.

In consequence, the company raised some $3 billion to buy 1,500 subway automobiles, a fleet of latest buses and new commuter rail trains. The cash additionally went towards rehabilitating stations, alerts, tracks and energy methods in addition to restore outlets, to improve the present rolling inventory.

He additionally masterminded an progressive lease-back financing association below which new subway automobiles have been bought to non-public firms — not like a public company, the businesses might reap the tax advantages of depreciation — and people companies then leased the automobiles again to the M.T.A.

The massive demand for brand new subway automobiles led to the institution, in upstate New York, of the nation’s largest rail automobile manufacturing plant — one other a part of Mr. Downey’s legacy, Mr. Walder mentioned.

As well as, in opposition to a looming deadline in 1985, Mr. Downey engineered a swap of about $500 million in federal funds initially designated for the proposed, however doomed, Westway arterial freeway alongside Manhattan’s Hudson River waterfront and had it earmarked as a substitute for mass transit tasks.

“With out his wizardry, fiscal and in any other case, all of the enhancements that adopted wouldn’t have been doable,” Janno Lieber, the M.T.A.’s chief government, mentioned of Mr. Downey in a press release. He referred to as him “the premier transportation skilled of his era.”

Mortimer Leo Downey III was born on Aug. 9, 1936, in Springfield, Mass. His father was a claims adjuster. His mom, Elizabeth (Carlin) Downey, was an English instructor.

Mort attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., on a scholarship. His first transportation job was working one summer time as a crusing teacher in Bermuda for a Phillips school member.

He earned a bachelor’s diploma in political science from Yale in 1958. He later served within the Coast Guard Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander, and obtained a grasp’s in public administration from New York College in 1966.

His grasp’s thesis was on the city planner Robert Moses, earlier than Robert A. Caro’s magisterial biography “The Energy Dealer” was printed in 1974.

“My paper emphasised Moses’s many accomplishments and the way knitting them collectively throughout a number of companies and tasks served to satisfy broader public targets,” Mr. Downey recalled for the Nationwide Academy of Public Administration. “After ‘The Energy Dealer’ was printed, I did see how the method may very well be refined to be extra attentive to public problems with fairness and accountability. However the main lesson was that massive tasks might deliver massive outcomes.”

He married Joyce Vander Meyden in 1961; she died in 2012. His brother, Peter, additionally died. Mr. Downey is survived by his sons, Stephen and Christopher; 5 grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren.

In his first job, with the Port Authority, he urged the bistate company to dedicate extra of its sources to mass transit and was concerned with its takeover of the bankrupt Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, which turned what’s now the PATH system connecting New Jersey and Manhattan.

Mr. Downey went to Washington in 1975 as a transportation program analyst for the Home of Representatives Committee on the Funds. He left to change into the Transportation Division’s assistant secretary for funds and applications from 1977 to 1981, through the Carter administration. In 1981, he returned to New York to affix the M.T.A. as assistant government director of administration and funds. He was the company’s government director from 1986 to 1993.

After working in non-public business and as a advisor, from 2010 to 2016, Mr. Downey served as the primary federal consultant on the board of administrators of the Washington Metropolitan Space Transportation Authority, which aimed to rebuild bus and subway ridership, restore its uncared for infrastructure and take care of the repercussions of a lethal practice collision in 2009.

His chairmanship, from 2015 to 2016, was marked by stormy relations with a divided board, with some members complaining about inefficiencies and indifference to security and accusing him of getting a battle of curiosity involving a consulting contract. He employed a brand new security officer and, after an investigation, was cleared of any wrongdoing concerning the contract.

Mr. Downey was a voracious reader. He recurrently took two suitcases stuffed with paperwork dwelling with him after work. As soon as, whereas his spouse was driving him to the ferry to Block Island on a summer time weekend, he turned so determined for studying materials that he flipped down the visor over the windshield and began perusing the Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration warning sticker. He observed a mistake and returned to work after the weekend and directed the company to repair it.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Democrat of New York, could have paid Mr. Downey the final word praise. When his nomination as deputy secretary was being thought of by Congress, Mr. Moynihan, who died in 2003, recalled Mr. Downey’s tenure on the M.T.A.

“He left virtually as in style as when he arrived,” the senator mentioned. “Nobody has accomplished that with a subway system in our time.”

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