Op-ed | NYC Transit President Davey marks first year of progress

NYC Transit President Richard Davey
New York City Transit President Richard Davey speaks at the Pokey and Schleppie Awards in Manhattan on Aug. 8.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

This week marks one year since I came on as president of New York City Transit. From the start, we refocused efforts to put riders at the center of everything we do. We listened to New Yorkers, established a goal of improving customer satisfaction to 70% by mid-2024, and developed the Faster, Cleaner, Safer action plan to make it happen.

One year later, customer satisfaction and performance have climbed to new heights as we continue to break ridership records. To compare, this time last year, average weekday subway ridership was below 3 million customers. We’ve now surpassed 4 million daily riders three times in the last couple of weeks and set a post-pandemic monthly record in March with over 100 million rides.

Folks are coming back because service is strong. The first four months of this year have been the best on the subways in a decade, with weekday on-time performance (OTP) repeatedly reaching 85%. That translates to thousands more trips delivered on time for riders. We also set 10-year records for weekday OTP in January, February, and April. Weekend service is even better, climbing to 85.6% in March, an improvement over both March 2022 and March 2019.

We’re also making it a priority to improve the station environment. Station agents are now out of their booths assisting customers and we’re adding 800 station and car cleaners. Brand new Customer Service Centers have opened at 12 locations systemwide, with more on the way. Dozens of stations have been targeted for improvements through the Station Re-NEW-vation program — 34 will have been refreshed by June, with a goal of 50 for the year — and we’ve reopened 42 of the system’s 133 station bathrooms. Thanks to our partnership with the NYPD Transit Bureau, crime underground is down 8.1% year to date.

For buses, it’s all about speed and reliability. The Bronx local bus network has been redesigned to achieve faster speeds, with redesigns in Queens and Brooklyn underway as well. To keep cars out of bus lanes, we’re greatly expanding camera enforcement. Riders are noticing the difference; 69% of bus customers over the last three months told us they feel satisfied with service, just shy of our 2024 goal.

The Access-A-Ride paratransit operation is back to pre-COVID ridership levels while delivering vastly improved service. In April, 78% of our customers told us they were satisfied, up from 44% in the Fall of 2021.

None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the 47,000-strong NYC Transit team. It has been a privilege to join and lead such a talented group. But our work is not done. There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming months– increases in night and weekend subway service, the rollout a first-of-its-kind free bus pilot, and expansion of paratransit’s e-Hail pilot program.

Those reflect demand from increasing ridership and economic efficiencies that are generating savings allowing us to prioritize resources where most needed, all fueling post-pandemic recovery of a vibrant region.

Richard Davey is MTA New York City Transit President.