Yang has no answers on MTA takeover, agency debt
De Blasio adding 250 police patrols to NYC subway system amid MTA pressure
24/7 subway service is back after year of COVID-19 shutdowns
MTA exec accuses mayor of being out of touch with subway safety fears
The former accessibility czar for New York City’s subways and buses quit last year after he violated ethics rules by giving an MTA contractor advance notice that its bid was going to be rejected — while firing off emails to transit officials imploring them to reconsider, the agency’s inspector general revealed Thursday.
Alex Elegudin leaked the impending decision on Curb Mobility’s bid to operate taxis for disabled New Yorkers to a company exec, Jason Gross, in August 2020 — at the same time the contract selection committee met to make its final call, informing him that Curb’s bid was too expensive, IG Carolyn Pokorny said.
Gross proceeded to call his designated contact on the committee, claiming he’d accidentally submitted incorrect price figures.
Elegudin, who was not on the selection committee, emailed “several” senior transit officials asking to reopen the request for proposals and allow companies to resubmit their final officers, the IG said — eventually calling Gross to inform him Curb “was out.”
“What the hell? Do you not want MTA business anymore?” he reportedly asked Gross.
“I am not Procurement but if you have better prices, you should tell someone,” he added.
The committee unanimously agreed to reject Curb’s bid 25 minutes later, the IG said.
Elegudin — a recruit of former NYC Transit President Andy Byford after he joined the authority in June 2018 — later told Pokorny’s investigators he “felt he had to do what was best for people with disabilities” in attempting to intervene on Curb’s behalf, according to the IG’s report.
He officially left the MTA on Nov. 1, before he could receive the official agency sanction — which the IG’s office recommended be “up to and including termination” — though told The Post his decision to leave was unrelated to the investigation.
At the time, Elegudin had announced he had been hired to work in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The position was later rescinded, he said.
The introduction of the Curb’s app-based reservation program in 2017 fueled increased interest in the MTA’s Access-A-Ride program, which provides subsidized rides for disabled New Yorkers for the cost of a single subway trip.
Elegudin told The Post Thursday that he had “grave concern” that the companies chosen instead of Curb had never worked with disabled customers and did not have enough wheelchair-accessible vehicles to meet demand.
“I made a mistake. I’m sorry about it. I’ve learned from this. But I was advocating for people with disabilities. My job was to be a disability advocate at the MTA. That’s what I was doing,” he said.
“Unfortunately I crossed a line, but it had no impact on that result. They had finished their voting. Nothing changed.”
“Curb was the one thing that had brought positive results for both sides,” he added. “It was the one thing the MTA and disability community agreed on.”
In response to the investigation, the MTA recommended Curb Mobility be added to the state’s “non-responsible entities” list, effectively barring it from holding government contracts in New York for five years.
“Giving an unfair advantage to anyone in the public procurement process is wrong, but it is especially egregious for an MTA executive and vendor to do so, in a way that potentially jeopardizes a critical paratransit initiative,” Pokorny said in a statement.
Elegudin “was breaking agency and New York State ethics policy by disclosing confidential information and trying to devise a way for a vendor, with whom he’d had a long-term relationship with, to get a second bite at the apple,” Pokorny said.
“NYC Transit’s finding that the vendor was non-responsible, resulting in its exclusion from future MTA projects, sends a strong message to all vendors not to play games with the MTA.”
MTA officials ultimately reopened the bidding process for the accessible taxi program “for reasons unrelated to the OIG investigation,” the report said.
“NYC Transit takes very seriously the integrity of the procurement process – which is why this was referred to the Inspector General immediately upon learning of the matter,” MTA rep Meredith Daniels said in a statement. “Mr. Elegudin is no longer with the MTA.”
Curb Mobility and a rep for Cuomo’s office did not return requests for comment.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article