Byford: From London to Sydney to Toronto to New York

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Andy Byford, who has forged a rail transit career on three continents, will join the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority as President of New York City Transit, the agency responsible for New York City subways, buses, paratransit services and the Staten Island Railway, effective in January 2018.

“A seasoned and highly regarded transportation professional whose work has taken him across three continents over nearly three decades, Byford joins NYC Transit after a widely hailed five-year stint as the CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the third largest transit system in North America,” NYMTA said in announcing his appointment. Byford began his transit career at London Underground where, over 14 years, he rose to the position of General Manager of the Central, Bakerloo and Victoria Lines, three of its busiest subway lines. He oversaw increases in customer satisfaction and operational performance. Byford then became Chief Operating Officer of Australia’s largest transit system, in Sydney.

At TTC, Byford spearheaded several initiatives, including the development of a corporate plan aimed at completely modernizing the TTC and improving all aspects of operational performance. “Under his leadership, subway delays have been reduced, customer satisfaction has hit record levels, and a number of major projects progressed, including the phased introduction of a [communications-based train control] system and the imminent completion of a major subway line extension,” MTA said. “These improvements led to the TTC being named by the American Public Transportation Association as its Outstanding Transit System of the Year for 2017.”

Byford’s appointment comes after an extensive international search. He was very familiar to the MTA: In June, he was a member of a panel presenting about international best practices at the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, where he described his successful efforts to modernize and improve Toronto’s subway system. At NYC Transit, Byford will be responsible for leading the immediate and long-term modernization of one of the oldest and largest transit systems in the world, including ensuring the success of the Subway Action Plan, which aims to “stabilize and modernize” a subway system that in recent times has been plagued with delays—so much so that the system was the recent subject of an exhaustive New York Times investigative report that portrayed an agency whose infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating, troubled by political interference and ineptitude (starting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo), bogged down in multiple management layers, and a cash cow for contractors and consultants.

NYC Transit has nearly 50,000 employees throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The agency’s most recent permanent President was Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, currently MTA Managing Director. “I look forward to working closely with Andy in his new role as President of New York City Transit,” she said. “Having held the position myself I can say with certainty that it’s an immensely challenging job but also deeply rewarding. Andy is incredibly well regarded in the transportation world and did outstanding things in Toronto. I’m confident he will do the same here in New York.”

“We are thrilled that Andy is going to lead NYC Transit during this time of great change,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. ”Our transit system is the backbone of the world’s greatest city and having someone of Andy’s caliber to lead it will help immensely, particularly when it comes to implementing the Subway Action Plan that we launched this summer. In order to truly stabilize, modernize and improve our transit system, we needed a leader who has done this work at world-class systems and Andy’s successes in Toronto are evidence that he is up to this critically important task.”

”To function as a first-rate transit system, you need a first-rate transit leader and Andy is precisely that,” said MTA President Patrick Foye. “His command of urban transit issues is second to none and he is invested in getting the details right. NYC Transit faces serious issues, but Andy is up to the challenge and we are excited to have him on board.”

“Transit in a city as diverse as New York presents a unique set of challenges, and Andy’s global leadership experience make him well-suited for the task,” MTA Chief Operating Officer Phil Eng said. “I welcome him aboard and look forward to working alongside him as we strengthen and grow the transit system.”

“Andy knows how to make tough choices and get people to buy in” TTC Chair Josh Colle said. “He is the consummate leader: driven, fair, passionate, and highly effective. Toronto’s loss is New York’s gain, and I have little doubt that he will bring world-class leadership to the North America’s biggest subway system. While we are incredibly disappointed to see him go, we wish him the best in the Big Apple.”

Last but not least, Andy Byford: “New York City’s public transit system has driven New York City to become the bustling, successful metropolis that it is, and it’s an honor to be trusted with the huge responsibility to modernize the system and bring it to the high levels of performance and customer service that New Yorkers truly deserve and rightfully expect. I look forward to working with my new colleagues and all the employees of New York City Transit and the MTA, and, most important, our customers.”

A native of the United Kingdom, Byford holds an honors degree from the University of Leicester.










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