What to Know
- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the largest public transportation agency in North America and one of the largest in the world – has named the former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation as its next president.
- The MTA announced on Wednesday that Richard Davey was to take over as the agency’s chief – a role in which he will oversee the 54,000-person workforce, as well as operations for New York City subways, buses, paratransit services, and the Staten Island Railway.
- News of the appointment comes amid the MTA struggling to reach pre-pandemic ridership numbers and dealing with a spike in subway crimes.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the largest public transportation agency in North America and one of the largest in the world – has named the former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation as its next president.
The MTA announced on Wednesday that Richard Davey was to take over as the agency’s chief – a role in which he will oversee the 54,000-person workforce, as well as operations for New York City subways, buses, paratransit services, and the Staten Island Railway.
“Living in New York during 9/11 was a seminal moment in my life,” Davey said in a statement following the MTA’s announcement. “My experience being a New Yorker that day at that time is why I am coming back, because public service and more importantly public transportation is so important to me. I share the same principles as Chair Lieber — delivering on-time and efficient service, welcoming customers to a safe environment, and constantly looking at ways to improve the system. I hope that whenever my tenure ends, New Yorkers can look back and say that guy from Boston made a difference. ”
Prior to his most recent appointment as head of the city’s transit system, Davey held several high-ranking transit leadership positions in Massachusetts: he was Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation from 2011 to 2014. Before heading the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, he worked for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR) starting in 2003, and was promoted to general manager in 2008. In 2010, Davey moved on to be general manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the fifth largest public transit system in the country.
According to the MTA, during his time as general manager of MBCR, customer complaints dropped around 40 percent. Meanwhile the MBTA had its highest annual ridership since 1946 when he was general manager.
According to MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, when the agency sought out to fill the role, “the goal was to find someone with a diversified transit background and strong leadership skills.”
Rich is someone New Yorkers should feel confident in as the agency moves forward with major accessibility improvements and other capacity and reliability-oriented upgrades like signal modernization, as well as megaprojects such as Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway and, in years to come “Governor Hochul’s Interborough Express”, Leiber said.
Following news of Davey’s appointment, Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum said in a comment, “Riders welcome Richard Davey back to New York and wish him the best as he tackles crucial transit service improvements. Faster commutes that deliver better service for millions of people riding today and help win millions more back to the transit system should be the hallmark of his tenure.
The mayor and governor have vowed to make changes and fix the mental health crisis in New York City. But are the mayor’s subway safety teams getting people the help and treatment that they need? NBC New York’s Melissa Russo reports.
“President Davey should focus on speeding up buses and trains through better signaling, bus network redesigns, and all-door boarding. We urge him to work closely with Governor Hochul to win funding for more frequent service to bring New York up to par with cities around the world. “
News of the appointment comes amid the MTA struggling to reach pre-pandemic ridership numbers. Weekday ridership regularly topped 5.5 million before COVID-19, but it cratered during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and fell as much as 95%. Riders gradually returned during 2021 and ridership regularly surpassed 3 million beginning in late September, until omicron hit in December.
The MTA has projected the residual effect of the pandemic ridership decreases will produce a $ 1.4 billion operating deficit by 2025, despite billions in aid from the federal government. The authority projects ridership will still lag pre-pandemic levels by 10% to 20% by the end of 2024.
The MTA recently introduced fare discounts to try to attract more riders, including a program in which users of a contactless payment system get free rides on subways or buses after they reach 12 rides in a week.
Aside from the lag in ridership, the MTA has been dealing with an uptick in crimes throughout the transit system – particularly the subways. Just last month Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul jointly announced a new subway safety initiative – one designed to both mitigate recent spikes in violence in the transit system and intensify homeless outreach as the city looks to encourage a rebound of subway use post-COVID.
Officials shared more details on that plan in February, saying it would target six priority lines to start – the A, E, 1, 2/3 (described as a combination target), N, R and 7 – and include additional police and social services worker deployment.