Andy Byford, hired in November to be the President of New York City Transit Authority, will be worth every penny of his $325,000-a-year salary if he can do what no one else has managed to do – get people riding the city’s subway trains, buses, paratransit services and the Staten Island Railway where they’re going on time.
Byford is charged with 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 the subway system by targeting the key drivers of delays.
He certainly has the credentials. 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. 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 at the main line UK railway system and, was Chief Operating Officer of Australia’s largest transit system in Sydney. The hiring of Byford comes after an extensive and international search.
“We are thrilled that Andy is going to lead NYC Transit during this time of great change,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said shortly after his hiring. “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.”
At the Toronto Transit Commission, Byford spearheaded several prominent 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 modern signal system and the imminent completion of a major subway line extension. These improvements led to the TTC being named by the American Public Transportation Association as its Outstanding Transit System of the Year for 2017.
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,” Byford said. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues and all the employees of New York City Transit and the MTA, and, most importantly, our customers.”
By Howard M. Riell