Home Asides Dept. of Subways head Leader to retire as Transit leadership shake-up continues

Dept. of Subways head Leader to retire as Transit leadership shake-up continues

by Benjamin Kabak

In a few weeks, Veronique Hakim will assume the position as President of New York City Transit, and her first task will be a big one as Joseph Leader, the senior vice president in charge of the Department of Subways, is retiring this Friday. Leader was appointed in 2013, and the Daily News broke word of his departure yesterday afternoon.

As the News notes, Leader’s departure comes at a time of increased ridership but also increased frustration as crowding is at historic highs and subway rides seem slower and less pleasant than ever. Leader was a major proponent of the current FASTRACK maintenance program, and The News notes that Leader’s “last major initiative was an attempt to get trains moving more smoothly through the overcrowded and problem-plagued system” that involved using “subway station platform workers to move riders in and out of trains faster and boost[ing] maintenance and inspections.” Whether the latter has been a success is hard to say. Without boosting frequency and overall system capacity, these efforts strike me as the proverbial lipstick on a pig.

So as Hakim arrives, she’ll be able to appoint her own right-hand aide to head up the largest subway system in America at a time of ever-increasing crowds and capacity concerns. Due to work shift rules, the MTA’s lead time for increasing service can run anywhere from six to nine months — which means, based on recent trends, that gains from increased capacity will be wiped out by the interim increase in ridership. Shortening this lag should be one of Hakim and her next SVP of subways’ top priorities. For now, Wynton Habersham, Transit’s Vice President and Chief Officer of Service Delivery, will serve as the interim SVP of subways.

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Elvis Delgado December 10, 2015 - 12:21 pm

Hey! I resent being called slower and less pleasant than ever. It may be true in my case, but – as a longtime subway rider – I don’t like the Daily News making a public point of it.

A December 10, 2015 - 12:40 pm

It’s a typo:
Reads: riders seem slower and less
Should read: rides seem slower and less

Elvis Delgado December 10, 2015 - 1:29 pm

Can’t both be true???

Ralfff December 10, 2015 - 1:32 pm

FASTRACK is a good idea, and should be implemented more aggressively- i.e. shutting down entire lines for months if necessary and getting work done. The Montague Tube rebuild experience suggests that NYCT can actually do this effectively when there is a mandate to do so. I would think that while obviously unpopular, it’s collectively politically easier than shutting down parts of a line for weekends etc. The key for this would be spending on buses to replace lines e.g. the 7 train during the shutdown, and getting those buses some kind of traffic light priority. At that point, however, I suspect the collective state-level opposition would bring the whole thing down.

What I have come to realize is that the buses are actually key to NYCT, more than subways. When buses are treated as a dignified, fast way to travel, the subways will be able to assume a role as backbones of an effective system. Instead we have a system that’s crap on rails and unthinkable, for many, on tires, making stops seemingly every block and going slower every year.

LLQBTT December 10, 2015 - 2:41 pm

That whole place needs to be redone, start to bottom. They should be able to,start and stop service as needed. How else can proper cost management be executed over your own operation?!

How can the low quality of bus service essentially be unchanged for decades?

Old New Yorker December 13, 2015 - 3:58 pm

Next up on the chopping block should be their Director of Corporate Communications, Marc Mednick — all he cares about is his bicycles. He is a miserable waste of taxpayers’ money.


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