The MTA’s new permanent head of subways and buses hopes to hold the gig longer than his most recent predecessor, Andy Byford — but said Tuesday that he has not spoken with the Brit whose jovial approach earned him the adoration of New York and the nickname “Train Daddy.”
“Hopefully it’s at least two years, hopefully, I’ll break some records,” Richard Davey, the former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation from 2011 to 2014, said during his first NYC media appearance of how long he plans to hold onto the job, which he starts on May 2.
Byford helped bring subway performance to record highs while serving in the role for just 25 months. He resigned in February 2020 with harsh words for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who he accused of making the job “intolerable.”
Davey said he has not spoken with the city’s old “Train Daddy,” but did talk to the woman who served as interim president from March 2020 through July 2021 after Byford quit, Sarah Feinberg.
“I have had a chance to talk to Sarah,” Davey told reporters. “Getting advice on where to focus and some of the challenges that she saw.”
Davey, who has consulted for transit agencies across the globe, said he hopes to bring “best practices” he’s learned along the way to the MTA — and pledged to prioritize “safety, reliability and cleanliness.”
“Safety is absolutely top priority, and the security of our system. I think that’s job one,” he said, while saying it would “take time” to address concerns about crime, homelessness or mental illness.
Davey has not owned a car since 2010 and said he plans to live on a “subway or bus line,” most likely in Manhattan.
He added that he plans to get in the weeds to address technical issues like the signal malfunction that snarled multiple subway lines for hours on Monday.
“I’m interested in digging more into details of power and signal and tracking and stuff that’s not sexy, there won’t be ribbon cuttings [for]but, at least in my experience in Boston, and looking at other transit systems around the world, tend to be where the rubber meets the road and where the issues are,” he said.