What to Know
- Andy Byford, the President of the New York City Transit Authority, handed in his resignation on Thursday
- Byford was appointed president of NYCT in January 2018
- The news comes mere months after he rescinded another resignation
Andy Byford, the President of the New York City Transit Authority, has resigned.
“I’m very proud of what we have achieved as a team over the past two years and I believe New York City Transit is well-placed to continue its forward progress now that the MTA has a record breaking $51.5 billion Capital Program in place,” Byford, who was appointed president of the agency in January 2018, said in a statement.
“I’m very grateful to Governor Cuomo, Chairman Foye and members of the Board for giving me the opportunity to serve New York and to head up North America’s largest transit system,” Byford continued.
The British-born Byford said there is an “excellent team” in place at the agency who can fill the void left by his leaving. He didn’t delve too deeply into his reasons for quitting, but did address a planned structural reorganization of the MTA that would diminish the role he had, instead focusing on day-to-day operations.
“I have built an excellent team and there are many capable individuals in Transit and others within the MTA family, who could perform this important, but reduced, service delivery role,” Byford said.
Some of the things he cited in his resignation letter, obtained by NBC New York, were the “centralization of projects and an expanded HQ” — an MTA overhaul which stripped him of control of the L train renovation and other mega projects.
“I think that didn’t reflect well and I think he wanted a bigger role and under the reorganization, people are doing different things now,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert.
When Byford arrived to the NYCT, the system was plagued with delays and breakdowns. He is credited with helping improve how well the trains operate, including speeding up track repairs and trains by raising the speed limit.
Under his leadership, on-time performance improved from 59 percent to more than 80 percent. Additionally, Byford also drafted a multi-billion dollar plan to modernize subway signals — within 10 years.
Thanks to his help pushing through improvements in timeliness and customer service, Byford was generally well-liked by New Yorkers — so much so that stickers emblazoned with his face and the slogan, “Train Daddy loves you very much,” began appearing in some parts of the city.
The nickname stuck and the MTA even used it once on its official Twitter account.
In his resignation letter, Byford says his last day of service will be Friday, Feb. 21.
Following the announcement, Byford addressed the MTA Board — expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
He additionally thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature for “having the courage to pass congestion pricing and get the funds that I know will deliver a capital plan that is unprecedented.”
He went on to express his gratitude to New Yorkers for “putting up with me” and calls the position he resigned from “the absolute pinnacle of any transit professional’s career.”
Elected officials, riders and commuter advocates alike all responded similarly to Thursday’s announcement: shocked and upset.
In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio called Byford’s resignation “a real loss for New York City’s subway and bus riders.”
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson also reacted to the announcement, simply tweeting “DEVASTATED.” Later, Johnson said that he had been sending Byford messages, pleading with him to stay.
“Subway and bus riders are grateful to Andy Byford for his historic service at New York City Transit. In two years, Andy made subways faster and more reliable, he tackled longstanding challenges to improving bus service, and he crafted the first plan in a generation that would truly modernize the transit system,” the Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said in a statement.
Additionally, the Straphangers Campaign Director Jaqi Cohen called the resignation “a devastating loss.”
“Byford came to the MTA as a world-renowned expert on transit systems, and his bold plan to transform the agency came at the height of New York City’s transit crisis. Byford’s vision of excellent transit service was one that New Yorkers believed in and stood behind,” Cohen’s statement said in part.
The news comes mere months after he rescinded another resignation. In that instance, Byford reportedly handed in his resignation in September 2019 amid a rumored spat between him and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Speculation about Byford’s future was incessant for months amid reports of tensions with Cuomo.
However, in October, the travel mass transit head subsequently rescinded his resignation saying that he had his concerns addressed and that he’s was in “for the long term” and remained “laser focused” on improving the system.
On Thursday, Cuomo called Byford a “good man,” saying “he’s done a lot of good.”
Cuomo, who controls the MTA, also rejected the notion that he and Byford clashed or that he wanted Byford out.
“I don’t think there’s any truth to the fact that he couldn’t get along with me. Most of my dealings are with Pat Foye,” Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said: “Andy Byford will be departing New York City Transit after a successful two years of service and we thank him for his work. Andy was instrumental in moving the system forward, enacting the successful Subway Action Plan and securing record capital funding with the Governor and the Legislature, and we wish him well in his next chapter.”
Foye also denied any rift existed between him and Byford.
NYCT is the largest transit agency in North America, with almost 8 million daily riders.
Prior to joining NYCT, Byford was the CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission, where he led the third largest transit agency in North America. From 2009 to 2011, he was COO of Rail Corporation, Sydney, Australia. Byford also held a variety of positions at London Underground from 1989 to 2003.