After Andy Byford resigns as transit chief, New Yorkers lament the loss of ‘Train Daddy’
NYCT President Andy Byford spent New Year’s Eve 2019 going around the system thanking Transit employees and our partners in the NYPD. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit via Flickr
Two years into his tenure as New York City Transit chief, Andy Byford resigned on Thursday, Politico first reported. The British native came to NYC in January 2018—in the aftermath of the transit system’s so-called “Summer of Hell”—after running the Toronto Transit Commission for five years. Byford inherited a state of emergency but hit the ground running as soon as he arrived. He’s been credited with boosting the subway’s on-time rate from only 58 percent to 80 percent, securing funding to upgrade signal systems, and putting an emphasis on accessibility. Praised by riders and transit advocates, Byford earned the nickname “Train Daddy” which exploded on Twitter following the news of his resignation. Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite social media reactions to the news.
Then-NYC Transit President Andy Byford discussing plans for the Queens Bus Network Redesign with customers during a community outreach event in Jackson Heights on January 15, 2020, days before he resigned. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit via Flickr
Despite his stature among New Yorkers, Byford’s tenure was marred by his political clashes with Governor Andrew Cuomo. In his resignation letter, Byford alluded that the governor had scaled back his duties to “focus solely on day-to-day-running of service.” Despite his achievements, “Cuomo never seemed able to just put his arm around Byford and soak up some of the credit,” Dana Rubinstein wrote in the original Politico report. “Rather, he seemed, at times, to view him as a rival.”
Byford’s last day of service will be February 21. “I am very proud of Fast Forward, the blueprint that my team created for implementing the changes required to bring NYCT back into the top echelon of public transit systems,” Byford continued in his resignation letter. “Now, with funding for the plan secured and with the new Chiefs of Innovation, Technology, Transformation, etc., on board to implement it, I am confident that you have the tools to succeed.”
Nevertheless, city officials and commuters alike were blindsided by the announcement. Here are some of the reactions:
Seriously, this is a crisis. If we lose Andy AND his team, all the gains we’ve made could be lost.
Let’s get this going – #BringAndyBack
— Corey Johnson (@CoreyinNYC) January 23, 2020
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) January 23, 2020
I mean generally when I’ve tried to win back guys I’ve called Daddy it doesn’t go well, but I’m glad NYC politicians are trying #traindaddy
— Caitlin Dorman (@caitdorman) January 23, 2020
Goodbye Andy Byford, you sweet prince
Head of buses Craig Ciprano says he hadn’t heard but shook his head and said “it’s unbelievable.” Other MTA staff nearby mutter “Jesus Christ.” https://t.co/PPiuB8tmcN
— Just your friendly neighborhood transit reporter (@s_nessen) January 23, 2020
We didn’t deserve you pic.twitter.com/0IaJSWeP5H
— Andrew Rose Gregory (@arosegregory) January 23, 2020
NYC Transit President Andy Byford resigns. He would have quit a day earlier, but he didn’t want to steal thunder from Eli and Jeter.
— Leonard Greene (@LeonardGreene) January 23, 2020
No matter who runs the transit system day-to-day, ultimately Governor Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) is in charge of the MTA, and riders will be holding the governor accountable for the quality of our transit service. #CuomosMTA ? https://t.co/xkRj0CrAbF
— ? Riders Alliance (@RidersAlliance) January 23, 2020
I hope we will get alternate-side parking rules suspended when Andy Byford Day becomes a New York City holiday
— katie honan (@katie_honan) January 23, 2020
Byford resigning is terrible. Terrible for the city and our subway system that needs so much care and attention if it’s gonna get better. Byford seemed to get it. He seemed to really care and listen to people’s complaints. Now what?? And who will be next??
— Jamie Stelter (@JamieStelter) January 23, 2020
*New* I spoke to Andy Byford this afternoon. He said he was not pressured to resign.
“This was 100 percent my decision. There was no external pressure for me to go. This is something I’ve given careful thought to.”
— Emma G. Fitzsimmons (@emmagf) January 23, 2020
This is a terrible loss for New York City public transit riders.
Whether it was working together on the 14th Street Busway or simply running into him riding the 6 train, Andy Byford demonstrated an enthusiasm for public transportation and public service. https://t.co/oTIosMJGOk
— Keith Powers (@KeithPowersNYC) January 23, 2020
Andy Byford stabilized the subways during a moment of crisis and laid out a farsighted agenda to improve bus service, make transit more accessible, and modernize subways.
It’s a bad sign for New York that the MTA couldn’t hang on to him longer. https://t.co/Bc3bZjW9B6
— TransitCenter (@TransitCenter) January 23, 2020
This is a gut punch for thousands of employees at @MTA and for millions of New Yorkers.
Andy Byford is a brilliant public servant. Our loss of his talent cannot be understated. https://t.co/ewa7gn7fw5
— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) January 23, 2020
— Ilya Marritz (@ilyamarritz) January 23, 2020
This is very bad for New Yorkers.
At its best, democracy can give you Andy Byford. At its worst, power-hoarding can take him away. https://t.co/rixrDOfwkY
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) January 23, 2020
Andy Byford was arguably the best advocate that people with disabilities have ever had at NYCT. Losing him and his team will set the fight for equal access back years. The need for a legally binding agreement on ADA access to the subway could not be more clear than today.
— Chris Pangilinan (@cap_transport) January 23, 2020
Another terrible display of this Gov’s style
We didn’t agree on everything but I always appreciated his great work
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) January 23, 2020
Idea: Andy Byford builds a competing subway and bus system in New York
— Good Idea Dave (@DaveCoIon) January 23, 2020
Make Andy Byford the governor of NY, you cowards.
— Reviewer #2 ✊? (@oligopistos) January 23, 2020
This is an unmitigated disaster. A transit system that can’t retain a leader of the caliber of Andy Byford is in deep trouble.https://t.co/rrFucwjnfW
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) January 23, 2020
Missing train daddy Andy Byford already. The MTA lost a real one pic.twitter.com/qzniHueUH6
— Alec Belmore (@alecbelmore) January 23, 2020
You can be sure to see an exodus of @MTA talent in the wake of Andy Byford’s departure. He is the reason so many people have been inspired to work at @NYCTSubway @NYCTBus despite the negativity. So much talent has already left #MTA, especially in the past year. We know why.
— Veronica Vanterpool (@Veevanterpool) January 23, 2020
Which NYC tabloid is willing to go with “Deadbeat Train Daddy: Byford leaves NYC”?
— Second Ave. Sagas (@2AvSagas) January 23, 2020
Revisiting this tweet on the day #TrainDaddy resigns. With the heavy hand of Gov. Cuomo ever present, what does this mean for the next leader of the @MTA; who qualified would actually want the job now? https://t.co/4hQgL779GU
— anthony.vanky (@avanky) January 23, 2020
Losing Andy Byford especially stings because he paid attention to the “outer boroughs”.
He understood that people who live in other states can get to work in Manhattan faster than most of our constituents.
And he knew that was unacceptable.
Very big shoes to fill.
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) January 23, 2020
— (((Stephen Levin))) (@StephenLevin33) January 23, 2020
Any chance @NJTRANSIT can hire Andy Byford? Their management is absolute trash.
— ryan crimmins (@ieatbooks007) January 23, 2020
#CuomosMTA and ‘Andy Byford’ are both trending in New York, in case you were wondering how New Yorkers felt about having a competent transit manager around.
— David J. Meyer (@dahvnyc) January 23, 2020
When will the egos of a few top electeds stop driving our politics and decision-making? All New Yorkers lose when pissing contests force out leaders like Andy Byford. https://t.co/hydqPwvT0c
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) January 23, 2020
Does anyone want to do a karaoke night with the theme: “Goodbye Andy Byford”?
— vanessa (@oxvanes) January 23, 2020
Terrible to hear about NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s resignation. It’s hard to imagine this sort of thing happening with a respectful and collaborative relationship between the Mayor and the Governor. When I am mayor, this will change. https://t.co/HEG9FlQykE
— Loree Sutton (@sutton4thecity) January 23, 2020
Andy Byford attending St. Clair Ziare Richards Stephens’ funeral showed how much he respected NYCT employees. That spoke volumes to me as a track worker.
Now Byford is gone. And so is the respect for us employees.
— Cesar Gomez (@ThatsCeez) January 23, 2020
Shocking research shows that buses actually work best on car free streets!
Andy Byford probably resigned because these same MTA officials—citing the need for more research—refused to believe that subways actually run best when on tracks. https://t.co/K0s8CAWr2r
— Vishaan Chakrabarti, FAIA (@VishaanNYCA) January 23, 2020
The first reporter with #AndyByford needs to get his thoughts on addition of 500 cops to the @MTA at a cost of $250M over 4yrs and 125 cops that already became MTA officers b/c the pay is $15k more.https://t.co/qWkCwXK4KK via @WSJ
— Ramona Y (@ramonathemona) January 23, 2020
— LaToya Jordan (@latoyadjordan) January 23, 2020
I am disappointed that @MTA Andy Byford is leaving. He has worked to improve the public transportation system in NYC. This is a great loss. Will we attract another talented visionary to complete the much needed upgrades of the system? pic.twitter.com/v3MCvzMffc
— Roxanne J. Persaud (@SenatorPersaud) January 23, 2020
Someone called andy byford’s resignation today the second #brexit
— Shelley Pitterson (@smpitterson) January 24, 2020
— 2020 – the year of clear vision (@TourguideStan) January 24, 2020
I feel the need to point out that yes, Andy Byford was very good at his job, and yes, “train daddy” is a great meme, but he also supported the continued criminalization of black and brown folks on the subway, who are overwhelmingly ticketed and arrested for fare evasion.
— Every fare evasion stop is a policy failure (@aaronnarraph) January 23, 2020