Richard Davey named president of New York City Transit

March 24, 2022
Davey, a former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, will start May 2.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has named Richard Davey as president of New York City Transit (NYCT), effective May 2. Davey hasn’t owned a car in a dozen years and has a background in every mode of transportation.

“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,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “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 began his transit career in 2003 at Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company and was promoted to general manager in 2008, where customer complaints dropped 40 percent during his first year as head of the agency. Davey accepted the general manager position for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in 2010 when MBTA had its highest annual ridership since 1946.

In 2011, Davey was named secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) where he served until 2014. Davey was responsible for the operation of the state’s highways, bridges and tunnels, freight and passenger rail programs, 15 regional transit agencies and 36 airports during his time at MassDOT. Beyond his operational duties, Davey led a campaign to raise revenue, including helping to raise the gas tax in Massachusetts for the first time in 23 years, which provided stable operating budgets and the largest statewide investment in transit in the state’s history.

"Whether putting out fires – or turning up the heat on the bureaucracy itself – Rich was a relentless force for progress and change, pushing our state’s sprawling transportation network to deliver better and faster service,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Davey served as CEO of Boston 2024, vice president and senior advisor with Transdev and partner and director of Boston Consulting Group. During his career, he has earned a reputation as a management efficiency expert. These skills will not be wasted as NYCT president where he will oversee the division’s 54,000-person workforce, operations for New York City subways, buses, paratransit services and Staten Island Railway.

“Living in New York during 9/11 was a seminal moment in my life,” said Davey. “My experience being a New Yorker that day at that time is why I am coming back because public service and more importantly public transportation, is so important to me. I share the same principles as Chair Lieber—delivering on-time and efficient service, welcoming customers to a safe environment and constantly looking at ways to improve the system. I hope that whenever my tenure ends, New Yorkers can look back and say that guy from Boston made a difference.”

Craig Cipriano, who has served as interim president of NYCT since August 2021, will assume the role of NYCT Chief Operating Officer effective May 2.

Reactions to ‘that guy from Boston’

New York transit stakeholders were overwhelmingly positive in their reactions to Davey being named NYCT president with words such as “wise,” “excellent” and “terrific” used to describe his selection.

“Richard takes over an impressive team that has helped navigate through the toughest time in the agency’s history which will allow him to hit the ground running,” said MTA Board Member and Chair of the Board’s NYCT Committee Haeda B. Mihaltses. “This is a critical time for New York City, and if mass transit is going to help lead the recovery, we need to bring in the best people and he certainly fits the bill.”

Assemblymember and Chair of the New York State Senate Transportation Committee Amy Paulin echoed Mihaltses’ thoughts on the pivotal time the city finds itself in “where we have the ability to continue to modernize the transit system, give riders a superior experience and lead New York’s economic recovery.”

"Taking over management of the country's largest subway, bus and paratransit system is one of the toughest jobs out there and Manhattanites and New Yorkers should be rooting for incoming-President Davey,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levin. “There is a lot of work to be done, from overseeing day-to-day operations, increasing station accessibility, supervising the bus network redesigns, upgrading signals, installing platform screen doors and so much more. I look forward to working with incoming-President Davey on improving our transit system."

Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA and Andrew Albert, Chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council and MTA Board Member, added, “We’re optimistic that President Davey will use his experience leading Boston’s public transit system to help move New York City Transit towards a more reliable, accessible and equitable future. His concerns echo those of riders: the need for reliable service, public safety and confidence in the system. We look forward to working with him to take the necessary steps to make this happen.”

Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum suggested Davey focus on speeding up buses and trains through better signaling, bus network redesigns and all-door boarding.

“Riders welcome Richard Davey back to New York and wish him the best as he tackles crucial transit service improvements,” said Plum. “Faster commutes that deliver better service for millions of people riding today and help win millions more back to the transit system should be the hallmark of his tenure.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.