MTA appoints czar for better weekend subway service

Jose LaSalle
The MTA’s new ‘weekend service czar’ Jose LaSalle.

The MTA has appointed a “weekend service czar” to improve New Yorkers’s experience riding on the subways over the weekend.

Leaders at New York City Transit, which manages the subways, buses, and paratransit at the MTA, tapped nearly 30-year transit veteran Jose LaSalle to take over the role.

LaSalle — with the official title of acting deputy chief of Weekend Service Diversions and Coordination — will review how the agency changes subway service on weekends and how officials let straphangers know about the adjustments.

The MTA often reduces or shuts subway service during those off-hours for construction work, but ridership rates have recovered faster to pre-COVID levels on Saturdays and Sundays than during the rest of the week.

New York City Transit President Richard Davey has eyed improving weekend and overnight service since he took over the agency’s helm in the spring.

“Better weekend service is something subway riders have asked for, and we are excited to welcome Jose to this new role at NYC Transit to directly oversee weekend service and bring a better experience to riders,” Davey said in a statement Friday.

Daily trip numbers on weekends have returned to as high as 85% of 2019 numbers on the subways this year, while the rates on Mondays through Fridays have remained at around 60%, according to MTA counts.

The highest number of weekend ridership during the pandemic was on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 2.36 million, 73.2% of pre-COVID figures.

LaSalle started in 1993 as a subway and worked as a general superintendent at the MTA’s Midtown nerve center known as the Rail Control Center, where transit officials keep track of the sprawling system 24-7.

He coordinated service and rider outreach during the L train repairs in 2019 and 2020.

LaSalle was also among a group of transit workers who saved a woman that fell 30 feet to the tracks of the D line in June 2021. He ran to a catwalk between stations, and when he spotted the woman and used a flashlight to alert an oncoming train of the injured person.

The operator stopped the train and LaSalle and police officers were able to carry her off the tracks, according to MTA.

“I am excited and ready to ensure weekend service is the best it can be,” LaSalle said. “Delivering efficient and on-time service and looking for ways to make improvements so that our customers experience a safe and reliable system are my top priorities.”