I may have been a Bostonian for most of my life, but I can admit there’s one thing that sets New York apart and that is its iconic subway and bus system. I’m honored to be leading New York City Transit now as its first permanent president in more than two years. It’s a dream job for anyone who’s spent their career in the transportation sector as I have.
New York is a special place. I lived here for two years in the early 2000s, and my experience being a New Yorker at the that time, following the September 11th attacks, is why I wanted to come back after spending the last few years on the consulting side of the industry– because public service and more importantly public transportation is so important to me. Like so many New Yorkers, it’s my primary mode of travel; I haven’t owned a car since 2010.
It’s my job now to help get more people out of their cars and on to mass transit to support the City’s recovery from the pandemic. To do that, the subways need to be a welcoming space. I share the same principles as Chair Lieber about delivering reliable and efficient service, providing a safe and clean environment, and constantly looking at ways to improve.
I’ve been going on a lot of a station visits since starting the job earlier this month, and my first question to staff is always “What needs to be fixed?” The answers range from the small (picking up trash) to more serious (stopping track intrusions), and all are delivered with the same sincerity and genuine concern. It’s clear that the women and men who work for this agency are passionate about their jobs and helping fellow New Yorkers. I’m glad to have the opportunity to work alongside them and our labor partners as we chart a course for the system’s full revival.
I’m also eager to hear from riders directly, whether during chance encounters in the system (look for me on the 4, 5, and 7 lines) or through a customer survey. As a manager, customer satisfaction is my North Star. We have a new customer survey in the works right now and I’m looking for the unvarnished truth; ignorance is no longer bliss. Somehow, I’m confident New Yorkers can deliver on that.
In the meantime, I’m focused on providing safe, reliable, and efficient subway, bus and paratransit service so that one day, when my tenure as president of Transit concludes, people can say “that guy from Boston actually made a difference.”
Richard Davey is MTA New York City Transit President.