Exclusive: Byford on the job ’til the end 1

NYC Transit President Andy Byford, who will resign effective Feb. 21, was still out in the field during the Monday morning rush hour taking a firsthand look at conditions on a Manhattan-bound F train.

Outgoing NYC Transit President Andy Byford has no intention of coasting prior to his resignation becoming effective on Feb. 21.

Byford spent a portion of the Monday morning rush hour riding a Manhattan-bound F train prior to transferring at 71st/Continental Avenue. In a brief interview on the platform, Byford told the Chronicle the Fast Forward initiative to modernize the subways and the redrawing of bus routes throughout Queens is still a priority, and will still be implemented.

“The big thing in Queens right now is the bus redesign,” he said. “That will continue even after I’m gone. And we’re going to keep working on that until we get it right.

“The important thing to remember is this is a draft plan.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been working formally on the redesign of bus routes in Queens — many of which have not been changed in 40 years or more — since last April. But the recommendations released last month in a 434-page proposal have come under fire from riders and elected official alike. The MTA also has set up a series of public meetings and workshops far in excess of the seven originally planned [see separate story in some editions or online at qchron.com].

Byford reiterated with confidence that Fast Forward, the $51.5 billion capital program to modernize subway and bus service, will be continued.

The plan calls for renovating run-down stations and make more than 70 subway stations handicapped accessible in the first five years, including 11 in Queens.

Byford, a native of Great Britain known to some here as “Train Daddy” for his hands-on approach and affable demeanor, was running the Toronto transit system when he was hired in November 2017 to continue the MTA’s Subway Action Plan, which was initiated during 2017’s “Summer of Hell” subway meltdown.

He had previously run the London Underground and a mass transit system in Australia.

Under Byford’s tenure with the MTA major incidents declined, as did delays.

Byford originally offered his resignation back in October, with multiple reports citing the meddling of Gov. Cuomo as the key reason, and saying that he was persuaded to stay on.

The MTA — run by Cuomo — then underwent internal reorganizing that greatly reduced Byford’s influence.

He submitted his resignation letter on Jan. 23.

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