Richard Davey, a former Massachusetts secretary of transportation, will lead the city's subway and bus system, New York City Transit. The last permanent chief was Andy Byford, who left in January 2020.
Beginning May 2nd, Davey will be running one of the core MTA divisions — with 54,000 workers across subway, bus, paratransit, and Staten Island Railway operations.
"To take over an operation as large as New York City Transit, the goal was to find someone with a diversified transit background and strong leadership skills," MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said in a statement. "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."
Another pressing issue is subway ridership, which remains around 55-60% of pre-pandemic levels during weekdays, as businesses slowly reopen and commuters adopt to new hybrid work patterns. The MTA received billions in federal pandemic aid to make up the lost revenues from subway and bus riders — but that assistance is short-term.
Concerns over subway ridership have renewed debate about safety on trains and in stations, prompting Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to roll out a new subway safety plan that includes asking homeless people in the transit system to go into shelters, with unclear results.
In an interview with the New York Times, Davey said bringing back riders is his top priority. The Times also pointed out that, while a consultant in 2017, he worked on the MTA's Subway Action Plan, created when subway service was at a recent nadir.
"New York is a city that relies so heavily on its transit system," he told the Times. "And if the transit system doesn’t work, then New York isn’t working."
While Davey is currently with the Boston Consulting Group, he worked at the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company from 2003-2010, followed by a stint as general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the agency that runs Boston's mass transit, between 2010 and 2011. He served as Massachusetts secretary of transportation under Governor Deval Patrick between 2011 and 2014.
According to WBUR, he "helped lead...tax increases to reinvest in transportation" in 2013, and "oversaw the implementation of controversial fares hikes at the MBTA to close a deficit at the agency before 's debate on new revenues, pushed the state toward electronic tolling, and worked to further major public transit projects such as South Coast rail, the Green Line extension, and the Allston Turnpike improvement project."
After stepping down as transportation secretary, Davey told WBUR in 2014, "I wish I didn't propose banning strollers from buses [in 2011]. That had to be the dumbest idea I floated, but that was mine."
He also headed Boston's unsuccessful bid to land the 2024 Olympics in 2015.
Davey lived in New York City between 1999 and 2002. In a prepared statement, he said, “Living in New York during 9/11 was a seminal moment in my life. 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."
He continued, "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.”
The MTA also noted in its press release, "Davey lives with his wife and two rescue cats and has not owned an automobile in 12 years."