Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

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jserraglio
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Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:38 pm

The New Yorker
Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?
by William Finnegan
July 9 & 16, 2018


The new president of the New York City Transit Authority wants to make the trains (and buses) run on time. It won’t be easy.

Image
Byford wants people to imagine an “Under New Management” sign hanging across the system. It can be a tough sell.

On a cold Tuesday morning in March, Andy Byford, the president of the New York City Transit Authority, was working the subway turnstiles—the gates, as he calls them—at the Chambers Street station, in Tribeca. Byford was seven weeks into the job, which had come with a seemingly impossible mission: to rebuild the city’s beleaguered public-transit system, after years of chaotic decline and stark dysfunction. He had vowed to visit every one of New York’s subway stations—there are four hundred and seventy-two—and to ride every bus route, in an effort that was part good-will tour, part reconnaissance mission.

“How was your trip?” he asked a commuter.

No reply. Waves of passengers rumbled past. He reminded himself to look for people who weren’t wearing earphones. Making eye contact was key.

“How was your trip?”

A young woman, not breaking stride, did a double take. “Uh, good,” she said.

Between customers, Byford straightened a pile of free newspapers. He had already introduced himself to the station agent, several platform cleaners, and the conductors on a couple of downtown trains. Each employee stared at the metal nametag pinned to his navy-blue suit. Yep, it was the president, the new guy. “Everything O.K.?” he asked. The employees seemed disarmed by his enthusiasm and his English accent. He shook hands and told people, “We’re one team.”

Byford was new to the city—new to the country—and was still perturbed by things that most locals accepted as inevitable. “That brown tiling,” he said, pointing at a rust-streaked wall. He took a photograph with his phone. Down on the platform, Byford regarded the track bed. It looked, as nature intended, like hell: filthy water, strewn garbage. “My customers shouldn’t have to look at that,” he said. “We’ve ordered three vacuum cars. They’ll suck up all of this.”

Byford, who is fifty-two, got his start in mass transit as a station foreman on the London Underground. The work ran in his family. His grandfather drove a bus for London Transport for forty years; his father worked there for twelve. Byford earned degrees in German and French, but after college he went to work for the Underground, learning car maintenance, operations, customer service, safety. He later worked on Britain’s main-line railways, and then ran mass transit in Sydney, Australia. His last stop before New York was Toronto, where, by nearly all accounts, he turned around a troubled transit system with spectacular results.

Toronto’s troubles, however, seem quaint compared with New York’s . . . .

A long read, but this is the best article on NYC's subway system I have ever read. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018 ... he-subways

John F
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by John F » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:45 am

Thanks for posting this. I haven't read all of it, but he's right, fixing the subway won't be easy. Full service must continue while it's being done; it how millions of New Yorkers get to work and home. Billions of $$$ have to be provided by Washington and Albany, neither of which are keen on helping the cities; the rolling stock and physical plant are showing signs of age and insufficient maintenance. (Most days when I go into Manhattan from Brooklyn, the air conditioning in my subway car isn't working, which is tough when the temp is near 90. Often the elevator in one of the stations I use, when there is an elevator at all, isn't working and stays out of service for days, which makes it hard or impossible for physically handicapped or limited riders.) I certainly hope Byford succeeds, but I wouldn't bet on it.
John Francis

John F
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by John F » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:53 am

Now I've read it, and yes, it's a fine piece of reporting. But the last paragraphs make discouraging reading. If fixing New York's mass transit depends on one executive and he can't even get a meeting with the governor and mayor who are supposed to pay for it, all the good intentions and good will in the world won't get it done.
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:56 am

I lived in Manhattan only a short time (at the nadir of its fortunes), but I fell in love with its public transit system which could get me anywhere at any time of day or night at the drop of a token. Its cosmopolitan complexity, as compared to that of a smallish town like Boston, fascinated me. I've kept up that interest ever since.

Finnegan's New Yorker report is superb. And you're right: Cuomo and DiBiasio come off as behaving like be-pimpled high-schoolers running for the same powerless class office. Hopefully, as Finnegan's article notes, public pressure a la Cynthia Nixon will move these two gents off their ample backsides.

I wish the new transit regime success. They released a pretty ambitious 5 & 10-year strategic plan last May: https://www.mta.info/sites/default/file ... e_nyct.pdf

John F
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by John F » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:41 am

Cynthia Nixon doesn't stand a chance running against an incumbent in essentially good times. Even if her name weren't Nixon. :) Her issues, notably mass transit in New York City, have no appeal to voters upstate. No Republican is a serious threat either. It will be Andrew Cuomo for 4 more years, so Byford will have to work with him somehow.
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:49 am

Cuomo responds to pressure. On this issue, Cynthia Nixon brought it down on his his head. Good for her, I say. She wins for losing. But there's gonna have to be a lot more public outcry than what Nixon instigated before this mountain moves to Manhattan.

lennygoran
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:56 am

Wonder what effect the The Working Families Party could have on splitting the vote-now there's also Former Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner-still I'd put my money with Cuomo. Regards, Len

John F
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by John F » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:01 pm

If the Republicans had a strong candidate for governor, that would be a concern (the Ralph Nader effect). But Marcus Molinaro's résumé is unimpressive, however much the Republican Party establishment likes him, and it looks to me like a walkover for the Democrat whoever that is.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Can Andy Byford save the subways? Or will it be MTA (More Trouble Ahead)?

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:11 pm

John F wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:01 pm
it looks to me like a walkover for the Democrat whoever that is.
John hope you're right and think you are! Regards, Len

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