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Andy Byford resigns

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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.

Unlike the last time he resigned, Byford seems unlikely to reconsider.

“Andy Byford will be departing New York City Transit after a successful two years of service and we thank him for his work," said MTA chairman and CEO Pat Foye, in a statement. "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.”

As POLITICO first reported, Byford also submitted his resignation to the MTA in October, citing frustration with gubernatorial meddling.

The MTA’s leadership ultimately convinced him to rescind that resignation, in part by promising to let him retain control over subway resignaling — a Byford hobbyhorse considered key to turning around the subway system over the long term. A Cuomo-driven reorganization threatened to take the resignaling away from New York City Transit and give it to the MTA’s newly centralized capital construction force.

Byford’s departure amounts to a serious political blow for the MTA, and for Cuomo, whose stewardship of the MTA has come under intense scrutiny following the subway meltdown of 2017.

Cuomo helped hire Byford, and Byford is widely credited with helping turn the subway system around.

Major incidents affecting 50 or more trains are on the decline. Delays are falling, with weekday delays in 2019 falling 25 percent compared with the year prior. Subways are moving more quickly between terminals. With the city’s transportation department, he created a successful busway on 14th Street. He’s launched the redesign of every borough bus network. He’s helped secure funding commitments for an historic, $51 billion overhaul of the network.

On Tuesday, Byford delivered something of a hidden swan song. During remarks to the MTA board, he touted his team’s achievements over the past two years.

“The subway’s actually seeing people come back,” Byford said, adding that “2019 was our best operating performance since 2013.”

Despite those achievements, Cuomo never seemed able to just put his arm around Byford and soak up some of the credit. Rather, he seemed to view him as a rival.

"I always say 'in Andy Byford we trust,'” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Wednesday morning, during an unrelated interview on NY1. At the time he was unaware of Byford’s latest plan to quit. “He's turned the system around."

“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," said Byford 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.”


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