News / Toronto

Andy Byford leaving the TTC for a job with New York City Transit

In January, Byford will take on a new a role as president and CEO of New York City Transit, which he described as “arguably the toughest job in transit right now.”

TTC chief executive officer Andy Byford speaks at a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Byford is leaving his post to take a job as president and CEO of New York City.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TTC chief executive officer Andy Byford speaks at a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Byford is leaving his post to take a job as president and CEO of New York City.

After more than five years at the helm of Canada’s largest transit agency, Andy Byford is stepping down as CEO of the TTC.

Byford made the announcement at a press conference at the TTC’s Yonge St. headquarters Tuesday morning, moments after the news was reported by the Star.

His resignation is effective mid-December, following the completion of the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension, which is slated to open Dec. 17.

In January, Byford will take on a new role as president and CEO of New York City Transit, which he described as “arguably the toughest job in transit right now.”

“I will look back on my time at the TTC as the absolute highlight of my 28-year transit career to date,” he said in a prepared speech, in which he stated his “signature policy” had been “changing the prevailing culture at the TTC.”

Byford joined the organization in 2011 in the role of chief operating officer, and took over as head of the agency just a few months later after TTC commissioners loyal to then-mayor Rob Ford fired general manager Gary Webster amid a heated debate about the city’s subway plans.

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As one of his first orders of business, Byford launched a five-year plan in 2012 to modernize the TTC, which he has said was “stuck in the ’70s” at the time he took over. The initiative is now in its final year and Byford said he considers it a success.

“I believe we have achieved what we set out to do and we have done that as a team. While there will always be room to improve still further, the basic tenets of the service have been substantially improved,” he said, citing a decrease in subway delays, dramatic reductions in “short turns” for buses and streetcars, and higher customer satisfaction scores.

In a written statement, Mayor John Tory said Byford is leaving the TTC in much better shape than when he became CEO five years ago.

“Mr. Byford has been no less than superb when it comes to taking the tens of millions of additional dollars city council has given the TTC under my leadership and that of TTC Chair Josh Colle, and investing this new money quickly and wisely in restoring services previously cut and adding new service,” Tory said.

Colle, who joined Byford at the announcement, praised his “relentless focus on customer service,” which he said had left the transit system “cleaner, safer, and more reliable for our customers.”

Karen Stintz, who was TTC chair from December 2010 to March 2014, said in an interview Tuesday Byford had done a “fantastic job” under difficult circumstances.

"He became CEO in a time of political turmoil and upheaval but he maintained his professional composure and kept his eye on running the system,” said Stintz, who is now chief executive of Variety Village.

“I think he brought a new level of pride among staff in the system, as well as accountability for himself and others."

Earlier this year the TTC was named North America’s transit system of the year by the American Public Transportation Association, an award that some riders mocked but that Byford attributed to the modernization efforts.

A native of Plymouth, England, before coming to Canada, Byford worked as a general manager at Transport for London, then served as an executive at Sydney, Australia’s RailCorp.

According to public sector salary disclosure records, he earned $339,913.43 last year.

Colle said that an international search for Byford’s successor has already begun, but next month he will ask the agency board to appoint Deputy CEO Rick Leary as acting CEO. The TTC hopes to have a permanent leader in place by July 1.

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