NYC Transit President Richard Davey, who runs subways and buses, leaving MTA

The MTA executive in charge of running New York City’s subways and buses is slated to leave his job to become CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority, according to people with knowledge of the decision.

New York City Transit President Richard Davey joined the agency in May 2022 and led it as transit ridership rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic. His departure is the latest example of turnover at the prominent post that’s had four leaders in just over four years. Davey is responsible for more than 5 million daily commuters.

His exit comes as the MTA prepares to launch congestion pricing, which aims to push drivers into mass transit.

Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen, who represents NYC Transit’s workforce, said he’d been told Davey is leaving New York.

“My trade union counterparts in Boston confirmed to me that Davey is just waiting on an approval vote from the Massport board,” said Samuelsen, who holds a seat on the MTA board.

Davey neither confirmed nor denied his new job during a news conference on Tuesday.

“I do get calls from time to time because I got a great team that makes me look good,” he said.

An MTA board member who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter also confirmed Davey’s imminent departure. A former statehouse bureau chief for the Boston Globe, Frank Phillips, first reported on X that Davey would be taking the helm at Massport.

The MTA has struggled to retain a long-term head of its subways and bus operations since former NYC Transit President Andy Byford resigned in February 2020 following a feud with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The year before, Cuomo pushed through a reorganization of the agency that stripped some of the NYC Transit president’s control of subway maintenance and turned it over to the MTA’s construction department, which at the time was led by Janno Lieber — who became the agency’s chair in 2021.

“The New York City subway and bus system would be a lot better off if it was Janno [Lieber] leaving and not Richard Davey,” said Samuelsen, who has repeatedly launched public attacks against Lieber over the last two years during his union’s contract negotiations with the MTA.

Davey joined the transit agency as NYC Transit president in May 2022, when the subway had roughly 3.1 million riders per weekday. Ridership has since rebounded to nearly 4 million weekday riders, which still remains down from 5.5 million before the pandemic.

He’s also recently faced several crises on the job.

In November, a safety flagger was fatally dragged under a passing train. Two months later, two subway trains collided and derailed on the Upper West Side, prompting an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Less than a week later, a train derailed in Coney Island.

Davey’s tenure at the MTA coincided with a spike in some crimes in the subways. Assaults in the system hit a 27-year high in 2023. There have also been four murders in the subway system so far this year.

His departure for Massport would be a return to Boston, where he was previously the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts state transportation secretary.

Massport, which runs the commonwealth’s airports and seaports, has been without a permanent CEO since November. The agency’s board is scheduled to meet on Thursday, and Samuelsen said he was told the move to hire Davey was all but a done deal.

Massport spokesperson Jennifer Mehigan said a committee is still considering finalists for the job.

“The work of the preliminary screening committee is ongoing,” said Mehigan. “They have not yet deliberated or determined finalists. It is anticipated the committee will make a recommendation of finalists to the full Massport Board sometime this spring.”

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