Facebook Twitter

New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford attends an MTA board meeting on Jan. 27, 2019.

Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

MTA’s Andy Byford Leaving Role That May Be Derailed

SHARE MTA’s Andy Byford Leaving Role That May Be Derailed
SHARE MTA’s Andy Byford Leaving Role That May Be Derailed

Sign up for “THE CITY Scoop,” our daily newsletter where we send you stories like this first thing in the morning.


As Andy Byford checks out Friday from the MTA, it’s still not clear who — if anyone — is replacing him as head of New York City Transit.

The British transit veteran is closing out a sometimes stormy two-year run as president of the subway, bus and paratransit system. But an MTA spokesperson on Thursday would not address what’s next for the position, which is expected to be fundamentally altered by a reorganization of the agency.

“The job has totally changed,” said Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign, which advocates for riders. “Whoever takes over for Byford is not taking over the same role.”

An MTA Metamorphosis

That’s because of the MTA Transformation Plan, a $4 millon study by the consulting firm AlixPartners, which called for a reduced role for agency heads like Byford and the shifting of some key duties to a centralized bureaucracy.

A June 30 draft said “the MTA transformation plan relies” on six “significant changes” to the organization. Among them: a merger of the MTA’s three separate bus organizations and “consideration of separation of subway and bus” divisions.

The July 31 final report tweaked those terms, saying the MTA should “consider” a merger of its bus operations — and a “future review” of splitting subway and bus into separate operating agencies.

Transit advocates have said the possibility of a divide could lead to a lack of coordination between bus and subway leaders during service outages and repairs.

Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, cited a July 19 rush-hour meltdown on all but one of the numbered subway lines that forced many riders to shift bus service.

“We think it’s important to have someone in charge of New York City Transit who coordinates buses and subways during diversions, both planned and unplanned,” Daglian said.

An MTA spokesperson declined comment. After Byford’s abrupt resignation last month, MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said, “We are working on a plan — when we’ve got something to announce, we will.”

Changing the Direction

Byford, a former transit chief in Toronto and Sydney, took over New York City Transit in January 2018, soon after the MTA had been placed in a state of emergency amid a spike in subway delays.

But he was able to engineer a turnaround of sorts, with the subway showing signs of improvement for nearly a year-and-a-half.

MTA officials announced this week that subway delays fell to just over 30,300 last month — the 17th straight month of meeting the agency’s goal for delay reductions. The on-time performance of 83.3% was the best mark for January in seven years.

The month that Byford joined the MTA, subway on-time performance bottomed out at 58.1%, in part because of a long stretch of sub-freezing temperatures that contributed to more than 76,200 weekday delays.

But he eventually clashed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who led the push for a makeover of the MTA that could result in the loss of up to 2,700 jobs.

“A lot of people had concerns that the plan would marginalize and ultimately push out Andy Byford,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy director for the Riders Alliance. “And now, we have seen that happen.”

Want to republish this story? See our republication guidelines.


SUPPORT THE CITY

You just finished reading another story from THE CITY.

We need your help to make THE CITY all it can be.

Please consider joining us as a member today.

DONATE TODAY!

The Latest
Past political fundraising and an ill-fated campaign for president have left New York City’s former mayor with a mountain of unpaid debts — and a trail of loyal donors who have profited from their dealings with City Hall
Pointing to higher-than-predicted tax revenues, the city’s chief fiscal officer will urge the mayor and City Council to adopt a savings formula to ensure funds to weather recessions.
The Department of Environmental Protection has floated the biggest rate hike since 2014. The public is invited to weigh in two days this week.
Major changes have come to the state’s political lines ahead of a double primary season this summer.
Congressional and state seats have changed. Before this summer’s primary elections, find out how your old districts stack up with your new ones.