New York public transport executive fled to CANADA when the second COVID wave hit
- Mario Peloquin is the MTA’s chief operating officer and second-in-command
- He spent several months at the end of last year with family in Canada
- Executive was absent when NYC experienced several periods of disrupted travel
- Transit officials said he was stuck in Canada due to Covid border restrictions
- Chairman Patrick Foye argued Peloquin ‘lead’ plans to combat second wave
MTA Chief Operating Officer Mario Peloquin spent the final months of 2020 in Canada
A New York public transport executive fled to Canada when the second coronavirus wave hit the Big Apple.
Mario Peloquin – the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief operating officer and second in command – ditched New York City during most of September, October, November and December, opting to stay instead with his family in Canada, agency sources have told the New York Daily News.
The $325,000-a-year executive, who is required to lead the delivery of ‘high quality transportation services’ in the city under the terms of his job description, was out of the country when New York witnessed numerous travel disruptions.
According to NYDailyNews, Peloquin is also meant to represent the MTA at local, state and federal government meetings.
On 25 August, the MTA met with the state Legislature and lobbied for $4 billion in COVID-19 relief funding for the fall months. Peloquin did not attend the meeting.
Officials at the MTA said Peloquin had originally returned to Canada to spend time with his family but was stuck due to coronavirus border restrictions and lockdowns.
Despite the border being closed for non-essential trips, Peloquin would be permitted to cross for work reasons.
The authority’s Chairman Patrick Foye said Peloquin has spent the majority of his time in the office since the outbreak of the virus last year.
‘Since the pandemic hit in March, Mario has spent the bulk of his time in New York and at the office, serving as a key player in our response, including leading the effort for our plans to prepare for and combat the second wave,’ said Foye.
MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye hands out face masks on a New York City subway in November
Passengers wear masks while riding the Q train in Brooklyn during December. The New York transport network was hit by several disruptions between September and December, while Peloquin was with family in Canada
‘To suggest anything otherwise is completely false.’
MTA officials declined to disclose the number of days Peloquin had been in New York for the fall months.
Peloquin worked previously as an executive at Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
NYDailyNews reported the MTA has encouraged some employees to switch to home working when possible to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In 2019, New York State mandated a reorganization of the agency’s bureaucracy, creating the COO job, which Peloquin later filled.
Former NYC Transit President Andy Byford, who is now commissioner for Transport for London, resigned in January 2020 partly due to his duties being scaled back by the new COO role
Former NYC Transit President Andy Byford, who is now commissioner for Transport for London, resigned in January 2020 partly due to his duties being scaled back by the new COO role.
Byford, who was a frequent presence at subway stations, often welcomed riders, swept platforms, and rode the rails.
Riders Alliance, who fight for ‘reliable, affordable, world-class public transport’ in New York said Governor Andrew Cuomo – who controls the agency – should take responsibility for any issues caused by Peloquin’s absence from the city.
‘There have been many dedicated public servants who have come to the fore for riders and transit workers,’ Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein told NYDailyNews. ‘But it’s up to the governor to make sure the system is fully staffed, and the service is reliable, affordable and accessible.’