Train Daddy has left the station for good
January 23, 2020 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Andy Byford, Cuomo’s popular subways chief, resigns (for good this time) Andy Byford, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority transit chief credited with leading the turnaround of the New York City subway system, is resigning again, the MTA has confirmed to POLITICO.
posted by SansPoint (43 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fucking Cuomo. Byford was the perfect person to fix the utter disaster that is the MTA, but Cuomo is such a petulant child that he couldn't stand giving anyone else credit or authority and undercut Byford at every turn. Meanwhile us schlubs on the subway continue to get screwed. It's infuriating.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 9:52 AM on January 23 [34 favorites]


Come back to Toronto, Andy!
posted by Evstar at 9:53 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


Please come to Boston
posted by InkaLomax at 10:00 AM on January 23 [12 favorites]


I don't think he'll come back to TO while Tory is mayor, much less Ford premier. Why would you want to repeatedly bang your head against a wall?
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:07 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


It's too small to really be worth his time and trouble, but maybe he could come to Ottawa and make the O-Train not suck? It would probably only take him a week or two.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:12 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


Speaking as a current, pissed New Yorker, and native Philadelphian, maybe SEPTA will hire him.
posted by SansPoint at 10:17 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Please come to Boston

It's not like Charlie Baker would treat him any better than Cuomo did.
posted by explosion at 10:21 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Between this and the Fairway bankruptcy, this has been a heck of a week for a certain kind of NYer
posted by BungaDunga at 10:25 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


Thankfully the Fairway bankruptcy story proved to be false. Though it may be that Fairway is just denying it until they actually file to avoid mass customer/supplier exodus. I really hope not, the only options near me are Fairway and Whole Foods.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 10:35 AM on January 23


Sigh.
posted by praemunire at 10:42 AM on January 23


First Jason Garrett, now Andy Byford. Dammit.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:42 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Thankfully the Fairway bankruptcy story proved to be false.

It hasn't been proved to be false. Fairway is, in fact, filing for Chapter 11 reorganization. What was false was the report that it was liquidating under Chapter 7.
posted by holborne at 10:44 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Please come to Boston

My first thought.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:45 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


he broke the inviolable rule of new yorkers - you stand on a line, not in a damn queue. Cuomo really does ruin fucking everything, doesnt he.

like im over here waiting for him to slip a schwag only clause into the state's weed legalization plan.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:50 AM on January 23


holborne, thanks, I hadn't heard that. At least it seems like the stores will remain open under different owners.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 10:52 AM on January 23






(Apologies for continuing this thread derail.) According to the NY Times the Upper West Side and Harlem Fairways do extremely well by any retail metric. The problem is the Red Hook and suburban stores which pay astronomical rents.

This is the second time in four years they have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Don't they have to disclose that when they fill out a credit card or overdraft checking application?
posted by Dean358 at 11:38 AM on January 23


I will simply say that the role of London Transport Commissioner is - entirely coincidentally - currently open.
posted by garius at 11:38 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Byford was the perfect person to fix the utter disaster that is the MTA

How on earth are you coming to this conclusion?

Andy Byford is a fucking idiot. In my 50+ years as a Torontonian, never did our transit system degrade as quickly as when he was in charge. Fares skyrocketed, customer service plummeted, services broke down on the regular, and the TTC became the worst thing about living in Toronto. I literally changed my entire life just so I wouldn't have to set foot on it ever again.


Only since Byford's left has customer service and wait times improved. Yes, stuff still breaks as much as ever, but it least now it's on the right trajectory.
posted by dobbs at 11:45 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Maybe "fucking idiot" was too harsh. I'll go with incompetent buffoon.
posted by dobbs at 11:50 AM on January 23




as a fellow transit-riding torontonian, i will provide an alternate take to dobbs: in my opinion, andy byford did not cause the flurry of problems noted, but he did set the service on the path to the improvements also noted.
posted by sixswitch at 12:17 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Ugh he was the worst and I don't know why all the Transit Boys were on his jock. He cut service — badly — to North Brooklyn. He started construction so early in the evenings that it was a genuine hardship. Cuomo is a total dickbean and I don't want to work for him either, but Byford didn't know how to play the game. He let Cuomo swan in and ruin the L project. (Like, yes, no trains for a year is bad, but we got the worst parts of the deal with no lasting difference, at the last second and Byford did jack.)

In summary: don't let the door hit you.
posted by dame at 12:17 PM on January 23


He let Cuomo swan in and ruin the L project. (Like, yes, no trains for a year is bad, but we got the worst parts of the deal with no lasting difference, at the last second and Byford did jack.)

Byford didn't "let" Cuomo do anything; Cuomo ultimately controls the MTA. Cuomo changed the L train plan at the last second and Byford doesn't have the power to stop it. What could Byford do?
posted by the legendary esquilax at 12:24 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Attempt ... anything? Take it to the public. Open lawsuits? Make better headways when it did go to shit? Something other than absolutely nothing?
posted by dame at 12:29 PM on January 23


I'm with Dobbs. Byford went along with the whole Scarborough subway fiasco when he had reports that showed what a waste of resources it would be. I'm sure he has good ideas but he isn't willing to advocate for his transit system when it contradicts what the politicians in charge want to do and seeing how the politicians always have crap ideas that makes him useless.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:15 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


I'm sure Byford going to war with the person that controls the pursestrings would have went super well for the people that rely on MTA services.
posted by Automocar at 1:46 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I mean again — he cut service for almost everyone, especially where I live. So not going to war also made things worse and convinced me he neither got it nor gave a fuck. I guess he had decent PR but I’m not the only New Yorker I know to think he failed to live up to the hype. And to be glad to see the end of him.
posted by dame at 1:56 PM on January 23


We're not likely to get someone better than Byford. Instead, we'll probably get an incorrigible hack who's purely subservient to Cuomo.

As for Fairway, the NY Post story that set off such a panic was outright false. The difference between Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 (which is what the Post said was in the offing) is like the difference between going to the hospital and going to the morgue.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 2:19 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I love it when people who are great at getting glowing media profiles written of them subsequently flame out of their high profile job.
posted by zymil at 3:59 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Come to DC!
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:07 PM on January 23


I would contrast Andy Byford going along with bad plans to his immediate predecessor at the TTC, Gary Webster, who was fired because he was quite clear on the record that he thought that Mayor Ford's subway plan was inferior to the already existing LRT plan. I don't blame him (Byford) for doing what he can to protect his job but I wouldn't be calling for him to lead my transit agency either for that very reason. As far as I'm concerned the head of a transit system needs to advocate for the system even if that puts him at odds with the politicians.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:43 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Well, public transit in Toronto is like a bigger mush compared to back when it was the best transit system in North America way back in the 20th century. I blame the 1990s era Ontario Premier Mike Harris for neoliberal Chicago-Boys style "f0ck-the-infrastructure" policies, which suburban voters gobbled up, and continues on today, with various politicians messing around with transit initiatives. That said, Go Transit & Metrolinx try to do their best, somewhat imperfectly at times.
posted by ovvl at 6:23 PM on January 23


As for Fairway, the NY Post story that set off such a panic was outright false. The difference between Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 (which is what the Post said was in the offing) is like the difference between going to the hospital and going to the morgue.

I’m actually aware of that, as is clear from my comment. But thanks for the mansplain.
posted by holborne at 8:06 PM on January 23


First Jason Garrett...

As a Cowboys fan this makes me so happy on so many levels! Good luck with that one! :P
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:51 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Considering that I haven't seen one metric positive change in the MTA in the two years I've been riding it daily, I'm unsurprised. And then finding out that the work on the 7 line is going to absolutely not increase any disabled access because of the MTA splitting hairs so fine they're molecular now just makes me roll my eyes again.
posted by mephron at 6:37 AM on January 24


Considering that I haven't seen one metric positive change in the MTA in the two years I've been riding it daily, I'm unsurprised. The issue is that the improvements he oversaw took service levels from obscenely bad to merely horrific.

When Byford joined the MTA two years ago, the subways were at their lowest point in modern history. In 2017, fewer than two-thirds of trains were on time; nearly 70 “major incidents” per month delayed hundreds of thousands of passengers.

Last year, as the MTA announced this week, 80 percent of trains were on time, and the number of “major incidents” each month was down to 46.


I dont think the Toronto/NYC comparisons are going to be productive, as a daily subway commuter here (NYC) and fairly frequent TO visitor, the woeful expansion up north was really a different flavor of issue from the utter inability to actually wrestle enough power away from other players to implement what he wanted for NYC MTA Transit. The obvious move would have been to more closely allign himself politically with DeBlasio as a counterbalance to Cuomo's intransigence but i frankly cannot blame anyone who doesnt want to take up arms with BdB (and doubly so since Byford was rightfully seen as Cuomos guy).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:26 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]




just finished reading/came to post that link, plastic_animals. In short it seems like he was both a good manager and pretty good person, and he did some good things in a very very messed up system. I dont have a lot of hope for his successor.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:06 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Evidently he was kind to the MTA staff:
A thing I'm always going to remember is someone at an L train shutdown meeting who denigrated MTA staff, and Byford very firmly pushing back to tell the entire room how much respect he had for the MTA's non-executive workforce.
And from someone who worked at NYCT:
I was nearing a breaking point one day and I thought I was keeping that hidden (and probably was to most) but he must have recognized it in a meeting because he pulled me aside after and gave me a pep talk that was incredibly meaningful and perfectly timed. True leader.
posted by brainwane at 1:59 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


You said a story that was false wasn't false. The headline was: "Fairway planning to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, close all its stores ." Straight up false, and I was concerned folks might think otherwise.

My comment wasn't directed at you. Rather, it was directed at folks who might have been misled by your comment. Since you didn't elucidate the distinction between the two chapters for the benefit of others who might not be as familiar with the terminology of the bankruptcy code as you are, and since you insisted on saying the story was not false even though it was, I wanted to reassure fellow Fairway lovers that the chain was not shutting down.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:29 PM on January 24


Thank heavens you’re here to set us all straight, my dude. 👍🏻
posted by holborne at 10:07 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


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