I may have been a Bostonian for most of my life, but I have to admit that there is one thing that sets New York apart and that is its iconic subway and bus system. I am honored to now lead New York City Transit as the first permanent president in more than two years. It is a dream job for anyone who, like me, has worked in the transport sector.
New York is a special place. I lived here for two years in the early 2000s, and my experience as a New Yorker at that time, after the September 11e attacks is why I wanted to come back after spending the past few years on the consulting side of the industry – because public service and, most importantly, public transportation is so important to me. Like so many New Yorkers, it’s my main mode of travel; I haven’t had a car since 2010.
My job now is to get more people out of their cars and onto public transportation 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 Chairman Lieber about providing reliable and efficient service, providing a safe and clean environment and constantly looking for ways to improve.
I’ve made many station visits since I started the job earlier this month, and my first question to staff is always, “What needs to be fixed?” The answers range from the minor (cleaning up trash) to the more serious (stopping break-ins), 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 work and helping fellow New Yorkers. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with them and our labor partners as we chart a course for the full revival of the system.
I’d also like to hear directly from riders, whether through chance encounters in the system (find me on the 4, 5 and 7 lines) or through a customer survey. As a manager, customer satisfaction is my North Star. We are currently running a new customer survey and I am looking for the plain truth; ignorance is no longer bliss. Somehow I am convinced that New Yorkers can make that happen.
In the meantime, I’m focused on providing safe, reliable and efficient subway, bus and paratransit services so that one day, when my tenure as president of Transit ends, people can say, “that guy from Boston really made a difference.” created.”
Richard Davey is MTA New York City Transit president.