Area media report Kirsch will report directly to the MTA's chair and will work to fix potential hazards from the MTA's rail operations.
The MTA announced a series of initiatives to improve safety by strengthening reporting responsibilities, emphasizing management oversight and installing automatic speed protections.
The agency will also create a new Safety Committee on its board to provide oversight of safety issues.
In addition, each MTA agency will ensure its top safety official reports directly to the agency's president, to reinforce that safety is a prime concern for every agency. At Metro-North Railroad, where safety and security now report to the same position, the responsibilities will be separated and a new position of Chief Safety Officer will be created.
"The safety of our customers and employees is unquestionably the top priority for the MTA, and these steps will make sure this emphasis on safety is built into the operations of every MTA agency," Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said. "The events of the last year have made clear to everyone in the MTA how important it is to create a culture where all employees act to eliminate risks, and changing our executive structure will ensure safety remains a dedicated agency value."
All MTA agencies have re-examined their safety-related operations over the last year. Prendergast, who has spent 10 years of his career in safety positions, convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of outside experts to study MTA safety practices in September.
In addition, Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road announced they have installed automatic speed controls at 10 critical curves and one moveable bridge since the Dec. 1, 2013 Metro-North derailment at a curve in Spuyten Duyvil. These controls work with existing signal systems installed in every train cab to enforce speed limits at those locations.