NYC subway, bus chief Richard Davey reportedly leaving MTA for Mass. Port Authority

NYC Transit President Richard Davey on the inaugural ride of the R211 train in March 2023.
Marc A. Hermann / MTA

Richard Davey, the head of subways, buses, and paratransit at the MTA, is rumored to be leaving his post after two years to head the Massachusetts Port Authority, according to multiple published reports and sources.

Davey, who has led MTA New York City Transit since 2022, is reportedly a top candidate to become the new CEO at Massport. The agency runs Logan International Airport, two smaller Boston-area airports, and the Port of Boston. It has been without a permanent CEO since Lisa Wieland’s retirement in November.

The news was first publicly reported by former Boston Globe statehouse reporter Frank Phillips on X, citing a “solid source.” In New York, it was first reported by Gothamist.

John Samuelsen, the international president of the Transport Workers Union and an MTA Board member, told amNewYork Metro that his Boston-area labor counterparts are expecting Davey — a Bay State native and devoted Celtics fan who previously led the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority — to take over the job leading the Port agency.

Samuelsen, an outspoken critic of top MTA leadership, nonetheless expressed dismay at Davey’s impending departure — in marked contrast to his thoughts on the MTA’s top executive, Janno Lieber.

“It’s a shame that Davey is leaving, and not MTA Chair Janno Lieber,” Samuelsen said. “Blue-collar New York can’t wait to see his taillights heading out of town.”

Davey, for his part, denied the reports at an unrelated press conference Tuesday at a Queens bus depot, saying they were “not true” and casting shade on Phillips’ sourcing but saying he sometimes “get[s] calls” with job offers.

Subway station agents and MTA NYC Transit President Richard Davey
MTA NYC Transit President Richard Davey chats with a subway station agent behind a booth at Fulton Street.Marc A. Hermann / MTA

“I am lucky enough to have this job which I enjoy very much. And I do get calls from time to time, because I’ve got a great team that makes me look good, and I tell them that often.”

Davey was previously the chair of Massport’s board, but said he was not aware of efforts to install him as chief of the agency.

“I chaired the board 10 years ago, I could tell you what they did 10 years ago,” said Davey. “I do not know what they’re doing this week, last week, or next month.”

Massport’s board is set to meet on Thursday where a screening committee is expected to unveil finalists for the CEO job, agency spokesperson Benjamin Crawley said. Crawley did not name those finalists nor say whether Davey was on the list; a final vote for a new CEO would occur at a later date.

Davey would be just the latest head of New York City Transit to exit after a relatively short tenure. The agency has had six presidents since 2013, including two interim ones. That list includes Andy Byford, the popular Brit who came to be known as “Train Daddy” but left NYCT after just two years amid “intolerable” conflicts with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Davey joined the MTA in 2022 as the transit system was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated the agency’s ridership and finances. Ridership has rebounded somewhat under his tenure, though it remains well below pre-COVID numbers, something the agency attributes to the normalization of working from home.

The MTA also has said ridership is higher when accounting for large amounts of fare evasion on subway and particularly on buses, both of which have increased markedly in recent years. Assaults on subway workers have also risen under Davey’s tenure.

Meanwhile, he has continued the agency’s efforts to redesign the borough bus route networks, which the MTA contends are outdated and inefficient.

Davey has frequently described customer service as his “North Star” and has attempted to raise transit riders’ satisfaction with the service under the “Faster, Cleaner, Safer” initiative, which, among other things, has seen dozens of subway stations deep-cleaned and patched up through the “Re-NEW-vation” program and reopened scores of subway bathrooms closed during the pandemic.

“We hope this rumor is just that, a rumor,” said Lisa Daglian, head of the in-house rider advocate Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “Rich has been doing a great job guiding the system toward a defined north star, and we’re not ready for him to give up the helm.”