Davey, who once ran Boston's commuter rail network as well as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the fifth largest public transit system in the nation, will assume his new position on May 2.
In an exclusive TV interview, Davey told Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett that he will bring a new perspective to New York City's transit system.
"I don't think anybody on the planet could replace the experience and history that many of the MTA employees have," he said. "I look forward to tapping that and using that, for sure. But I also think someone like me can bring a fresh perspective, maybe some best practices from other systems, and then build upon-maybe accelerate-some of the good ideas that folks at MTA have now."
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Davey will be the first permanent president of the city's transit system since Andy Byford resigned in February of 2020. He succeeds former MTA Bus President Craig Cipriano and transportation executive Sarah Feinberg, who each ran the New York City Transit Authority on an interim basis over the past two years.
Cipriano will be appointed chief operating officer at the Transit Authority, reporting to Davey.
"To take over an operation as large as New York City Transit, the goal was to find someone with a diversified transit background and strong leadership skills," MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement. "Rich is someone New Yorkers should feel confident in as the agency moves forward with major accessibility improvements and other capacity and reliability-oriented upgrades like signal modernization, as well as megaprojects such as Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway and in years to come, Governor Hochul's Interborough Express."
Davey told Eyewitness News that his top priority will be to bring more riders back to North America's largest transit system, which remains at 59% of pre-pandemic levels.
"Restoring confidence is how we get ridership back up, and that is all about public safety and crime," Davey said.
He credits Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul for dedicating time and resources to addressing crime in the transit system but acknowledges that any successful strategy will require a long-term commitment and not a single, "silver bullet."
The transit system needs to overcome "a multitude of challenges," he said. "It's the crime and some of the disorder but it's also some of these horrific incidents that have occurred that, I think, are seared in people's minds. And then it's the underlying social issues-mental health and chronic homelessness-that are not going to be solved by one person."
Davey believes the Transit Authority will need to adjust to new patterns of commuting, which may or may not be permanent. Even the transit fare structure, he said, may need to be revisited.
"The MTA and other systems have to be agile, and understand what potential new commuting patterns or new uses of the system will be," he said. "I think looking at some of the fare structure, the capping that's recently been implemented and trying to draw people back. So the more they use the service, the cheaper it becomes. I think those kinds of innovations can help bring back folks, as well. So I'm interested in in tinkering with that. I often said when I was in Massachusetts, that we, we wanted to try. And if we failed, we just we move on. But we have to keep trying new ways of doing business to attract riders and to be efficient."
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