The recently appointed head of NYC’s subways and buses, Richard Davey, has been on the job for less than four weeks. During that time there’s been a fatal subway shooting; a pandemic-era ridership high of 3.6 million riders one day last week; and felony assaults and grand larceny ticking up.

Subway safety and security continue to be a top concern at the agency. At his first monthly MTA committee meeting Monday, the new NYC Transit president announced he’s revamping an Andy Byford-era initiative to improve stations for commuters with so-called group station managers.

The agency is “reigniting our group station management teams to create a cleaner, safer and welcoming environment,” Davey said. “We have big plans to improve the front door of our subway network.”

One of former NYC Transit chief Byford’s first initiatives was to create the group station managers (GSM) program, which puts a single person that was in charge of the quality at a handful of stations. These 22 station managers, each overseeing around 20-25 stations, were also given an individual budget, and the independence to schedule repairs themselves.

Questions to the MTA about how much budget the GSMs were given, and continue to have access to, weren’t broken down, although the MTA sent the budget for the Subway Action Plan, which included $91,955,000 for “Improving Station Environment” from 2017 to 2020.

While the MTA said the program never went away, Davey will give it more prominence, and plans to meet with the GSM’s once a month. There are now 19 GSMs, down from 22 when the program launched in 2018.

“I am excited to engage with our frontline workers and management team to understand how we can better improve our station environment, “ Davey wrote to Gothamist. “While we work with NYPD and the City on the issues of crime and homeless sheltering in our system, we cannot take our eye off the ball to improve the things in our control like cleanliness, signage and the functionality of our fare vending machines.”

Riders' advocate at the MTA, Lisa Daglian with the Permanent Citizen Advisory Committee, welcomes the return of the GSMs and thinks it’ll make a difference now.

“With the horrific murder of Daniel Enriquez this weekend, it’s going to take a concerted effort to convince New Yorkers that it’s safe to get onboard,” Daglian said. “Booth agents and Group Station Managers are more than a reassuring presence in the system, they know what’s happening at a particular station or on a line because it’s their job, and can spot trends and issues before they get out of hand.”

Emails to all current GSMs about how the past two years have gone and how much budget they’ve had to work with weren’t immediately returned.

“Davey's embrace of Byford's Group Station Managers is a good sign,” Danny Pearlstein, Riders' Alliance policy and communications director, said. “Riders would similarly like to see MTA ambassadors and wayfinders in stations, on platforms, enabling conductors to keep trains moving. Increasing transit worker presence in the system will help foster a sense of community and enhance safety for riders.”

On Monday, Davey also announced he’ll be launching monthly “pulse-checks” to see how customers feel about the system.

“Customer satisfaction will become the North Star of our metrics going forward,” said Davey, who previously led Boston's transit system and was Massachusetts' transportation secretary. “So, watching what our customers are saying is going to be critically important.”

To that end he said he plans to hold weekly “deep dives” on the granular reasons for transit delays, and “then ruthlessly attack them.”

He also showed he’s listening to many of the frequent critics of the MTA who show up at public meetings. Referencing a frequent complaint from transit gadfly Charlton D'Souza, who was recently featured in a New Yorker article, Davey said he’s going to look at improving weekend service and how the MTA communicates about delays.

“He seemed to be listening to the public comments, and making mental notes of some, if not all of them,” MTA board member Andrew Albert told Gothamist. “It seemed he was interested in letting riders know in a timely fashion if service was affected for any reason, and he also seemed to acknowledge that weekend ridership has come back strong,”

During the Monday committee meeting, Davey sounded at times like the Boston Consulting Group consultant he used to be, using vague motivational phrases.

“Ignorance is no longer bliss. I’ll explain that,” he said. “Question. Be curious. Push. What we’ve always done may be working, but there may be a better way to do it. And so continue to ask the right questions in how to improve, is again, going to be one of our lodestars.”

At other times, he seemed to take a potshot at the press.

“Someone asked me if I had a deep, brainy, strategic plan to improve service. Probably someone in the press,” Davey said. Then, perhaps channeling a little bit of Mayor Eric Adam’s famed “swagger,” he answered his own question: “Our strategic plan is to get stuff done.”

The actual question he’s referring to came from a press conference held shortly after Davey was named to the position, when Dan Rivoli of NY1 asked, “What are your big ideas to tangibly improve service on the subway and the bus?”

This week, Davey got as close as possible to answering the question, by saying he’d “focus on the basics.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, the headline on a previous version of this story misstated Davey's title.