Ex-MTA accessibility czar leaked confidential info: watchdog

The former accessibility czar for New York City’s subways and buses give up final yr after violating ethics guidelines by giving an MTA contractor advance discover that its bid was going to be rejected — whereas firing off emails to transit officers imploring them to rethink, the company’s inspector common revealed Thursday.

Alex Elegudin leaked the upcoming determination on Curb Mobility’s bid to function taxis for disabled New Yorkers to an organization exec, Jason Gross, in August 2020 — on the identical time the contract choice committee met to make its ultimate name, informing him that Curb’s bid was too costly, IG Carolyn Pokorny mentioned.

Gross proceeded to name his designated contact on the committee, claiming he’d unintentionally submitted incorrect worth figures.

Elegudin, who was not on the choice committee, emailed “several” senior transit officers asking to reopen the request for proposals and permit corporations to resubmit their ultimate officers, the IG mentioned — ultimately calling Gross to tell him Curb “was out.”

People walk by the Subway entrance in Times Square amid the coronavirus pandemic on March 09, 2021, in New York City.
Alex Elegudin informed The Post that he “made a mistake. I’m sorry about it.”
Getty Images

“What the hell? Do you not want MTA business anymore?” he reportedly requested 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 mentioned.

Elegudin — a recruit of former NYC Transit President Andy Byford after he joined the authority in June 2018 — later informed Pokorny’s investigators he “felt he had to do what was best for people with disabilities” in making an attempt to intervene on Curb’s behalf, in line with the IG’s report.

He left the MTA on Nov. 1, earlier than he may obtain the official company sanction — which the IG’s workplace really useful be “up to and including termination.”

At the time, Elegudin had introduced he had been employed to work in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s workplace. The place was later rescinded, he informed The Post.

A person wearing a facemask exits a subway car as the subway returns to twenty-four hour service on May 17, 2021 in New York City.
Alex Elegudin mentioned he had “grave concern” that the businesses chosen as an alternative of Curb had by no means labored with disabled clients.
AFP by way of Getty Images

The introduction of the Curb’s app-based reservation program in 2017 fueled elevated curiosity within the MTA’s Access-A-Ride program, which offers sponsored rides for disabled New Yorkers for the price of a single subway journey.

Elegudin informed The Post Thursday that he had “grave concern” that the businesses chosen as an alternative of Curb had by no means labored with disabled clients and didn’t have sufficient wheelchair-accessible autos to satisfy 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 mentioned.

“Unfortunately I crossed a line, but it had no impact on that result. They had finished their voting. Nothing changed.”

People wearing protective masks exit the Fordham Road subway station Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in New York.
Alex Elegudin left the MTA on Nov. 1, earlier than he may obtain the official company sanction.
AP

“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 really useful Curb Mobility be added to the state’s “non-responsible entities” checklist, successfully barring it from holding authorities contracts in New York for 5 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 mentioned in an announcement.

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 mentioned.

“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 officers in the end reopened the bidding course of for the accessible taxi program “for reasons unrelated to the OIG investigation,” the report mentioned.

“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 mentioned in an announcement. “Mr. Elegudin is no longer with the MTA.”

Curb Mobility and a rep for Cuomo’s workplace didn’t return requests for remark.

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