NYC Transit boss Richard Davey is finalist for Massachusetts port job

NYC Transit President Richard Davey
NYC Transit president Rich Davey is a finalist for the top job at the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Marc A. Hermann / MTA

MTA New York City Transit president Richard Davey is a finalist for the top job running Boston area air and sea ports, even as the subway and bus honcho seeks to tamp down speculation on his future in the Big Apple.

At the Thursday board meeting of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), which has been without a permanent leader since November, a screening committee put forth the names of both Davey and Miami-Dade County Transportation and Public Works chief Eulois Cleckley as finalists for the job, which oversees Logan International Airport, two smaller Boston airports, and the Port of Boston.

Davey was one of nearly 100 candidates nationwide who expressed interest for the job, Massport said in a press release, advancing through multiple rounds of the interview process before the screening committee voted to recommend him and Cleckley as finalists.

“We’re confident in recommending these finalists, whose skills and experience will build upon Massport’s recent successes, engage with our many stakeholders and neighboring communities, and to ensure the Authority fulfills its mission as an economic engine for the Commonwealth,” said Patricia Jacobs, chair of Massport’s board.

The news comes days after rumors leaked out that Davey was a top candidate for the job, and union officials in New York and Boston contended his appointment appears a foregone conclusion. The move would be a return home for Bay State native Davey, who previously headed the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Davey flatly stated the rumors were “not true” on Tuesday — and following the Massport recommendation Thursday, he put out a statement professing his love for the job at New York City Transit, but not outright denying he was interested in the Massachusetts job.

“I very much appreciate that I have been recommended to the Massport board as a finalist to be their next CEO, an amazing opportunity in my hometown,” said Davey. “However, serving as President of New York City Transit — working every day for our six million customers and 47,000 transit employees with critical and consistent support from Governor Hochul and MTA Chair Lieber — is a privilege and one of the best jobs in the transit world. I will continue to push forward to deliver faster, cleaner, and safer service for subway and bus customers every day I serve in this role.”

The Massport board is expected to vote on a final nomination next week. The MTA Board also meets next week.

Davey earns $360,956 as head of New York City Transit, which oversees the subways, buses, and paratransit operations of the MTA, according to payroll records compiled by the Empire Center. Wieland, meanwhile, made $417,609 heading Massport in 2022, according to the Boston Herald.

Davey is the sixth president since 2013 of NYCT, which has struggled to retain a permanent leader. The list also includes the chipper Brit Andy Byford, who came to be known as “Train Daddy” but left after just two years amid “intolerable” conflicts with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo had shepherded a plan to limit the NYCT head’s purview mainly to operations, stymieing Byford’s transformation plans for the agency’s capital work.

Davey has contended his top focus — “north star,” as he calls it — is customer service, and has attempted to raise rider satisfaction across his department’s transit modes through the “Faster, Cleaner, Safer” initiative. That includes reopening dozens of subway bathrooms and deep cleaning subway stations under the “Re-NEW-vation” program.