Andy Byford, who rose to fame during a high-profile stint as head of the New York City subway, announced Thursday his resignation as head of London’s transit system and said he would return to the United States.
It was not immediately known what Byford would do next, but Transport for London said in a statement that he was “closing a 33-year career of public service”.
Mr. Byford was affectionately nicknamed “Train Dad” when he led the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York from 2017 to 2020, a name that did not catch on overseas.
He arrived in London in June 2020 with two main tasks: to open the long-delayed Elizabeth line, a $22 billion-plus railway designed to reduce travel times in the capital, and to stabilize the system’s finances through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
It accomplished both: the new line opened to giddy riders this spring, and the agency secured a long-term financing agreement with the government in August. It also handled an influx of visitors and logistical challenges after the death of Queen Elizabeth II this month.
“I have been fortunate to have had such an incredible transportation and public service journey and now is the right time to retire and resume life in the US with my wife,” Byford said in a statement.
Andy Lord, director of operations at Transport for London, will take over as acting commissioner.
Byford was revered in New York, a city that rarely shows affection for its leaders, much less the head of a troubled transit agency who elicits little positive sentiment. On his last day on the job, crowds of workers gathered and cheered him on, scrambling for selfies.
During his tenure in New York, punctuality rates improved, fewer trains broke down, and many passengers dared to hope that things would get better. But he repeatedly clashed with Andrew M. Cuomo, then governor of New York, a conflict that led in part to his departure.
The move to London was something of a homecoming for Byford, who grew up in Plymouth, England, and was a station manager on the London Underground early in his career. In May, the queen attended the launch of the line named after him, which Byford said in a statement was, “without a doubt, the highlight of my career.”
In an interview in May, he said that although he had enjoyed his time in New York, “I really enjoy almost total anonymity in London.”