MTA hires Canadian executive to run operations during massive reorganization

The MTA has hired a new chief operating officer as it trudges forward with its massive internal reorganization.

Canadian transportation executive Mario Péloquin will take the new COO position, overseeing day-to-day operations across all MTA agencies, replacing Ronnie Hakim and her former “managing director” title. The MTA reported Péloquin will earn $325,000 annually. 

“I’m eager to hit the ground running as part of the team that will fundamentally transform the MTA to improve service for more than eight million daily customers,” Péloquin said in a statement. “The chance to work for the largest transportation system in North America at such an important time is an incredible opportunity.”

Unlike Hakim, who served as the executive director of New Jersey Transit, Péloquin doesn’t have experience running a transit system. He most recently served as the senior vice president of a Montreal-based engineering and construction firm, SNC-Lavalin.

Péloquin also worked as the president and CEO of Thales Transport & Security Inc., the contractor responsible for the re-signaling the 7 line—a project delivered years late and over budget.

The hire comes as the MTA works to cut costs with a money-saving “transformation plan” that focuses on unifying agency operations under a team of chief executives. Earlier in November, the MTA announced it had hired Anthony McCord, also from Canada, to lead that reorganization.

The MTA plans to axe up to 2,700 positions within a workforce of about 72,000 employees as part of the restructuring, which the authority hopes will shrink massive looming budget gaps.

“It’s a key position at the agency, in terms of how the reorganization plan is going to unfold with the new reporting lines and with all the new chief executives. it’ll be interesting to see how that position in the past it’s going to be different under this new structure with all these other chiefs,” said Rachael Fauss, of the good government group Reinvent Albany.

“So how that position fits into the larger puzzle of all the changes at the mat important to watch,” she said.

The MTA in its news release touted that Péloquin will help it “continue to deliver gains in performance and maintain a laser-sharp focus on safety, reliability and customer experience.” His official start date was not immediately clear.

“Mario has the talent and expertise to continue to drive forward the operational gains we have achieved and help bring the MTA into a new era of customer service at this this critical time in the agency’s history,” said Pat Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Vincent Barone