London transport boss Byford quits after securing long-term financing deal | business news
Andy Byford, the head of Transport for London (TfL), which has helped steer the capital’s bus and tube networks through the most financially precarious times in their history, has resigned weeks after a new long-term funding deal was struck.
Sky News is able to announce that Mr Byford’s departure as TfL commissioner will be announced on Thursday morning.
His departure after nearly two and a half years in office will prompt London Mayor Sadiq Khan to seek a successor who can build on the outgoing boss’s legacy.
An industry source said Wednesday night that Mr Byford informed the mayor a few months ago of his intention to step down.
He is expected to depart before the end of the year.
During his tenure as TfL commissioner, he delivered the Elizabeth Line project – better known as Crossrail – after years of financial and operational problems.
The 73-mile line now carries hundreds of thousands of passengers every day.
However, Mr Byford’s key short-term achievement has been providing TfL with a long-term funding deal after two years in which its balance sheet has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caught in the crossfire between Grant Shapps, then Transport Secretary, and Mr Khan, the TfL boss was forced to manage the bus and tube networks with short-term government grants, sometimes lasting just a few days.
Due to the tense nature of the negotiations, the organization narrowly avoided filing formal bankruptcy filings on several occasions.
The latest deal, struck late last month, runs through March 2024.
In total, £6bn has been handed over to TfL to keep it afloat since the outbreak of COVID in spring 2020.
On Wednesday, Mr Khan said he would provide TfL with an additional £500million, sparking proposals for council tax increases for inflation-hit Londoners.
The Mayor of London had also warned of significant cuts in services ahead of the final deal, while last month he said a “significant funding gap” remained and would likely mean fare increases.
Pension reform remains a contentious issue at TfL at a time when much of the UK public transport network is affected by industrial action.
It was unclear on Wednesday night whether Mr Byford, who has been dubbed an inspirational leader by colleagues during the challenges of the past two years, intended to remain in the UK or had another job offer on the horizon.
Industry analysts pointed to Andy Lord, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, as the logical in-house candidate to take the helm.
Mr Lord joined TfL in 2019 and is responsible for the overall management of the London Underground network.
Mr Khan, the leader of TfL, is nonetheless expected to conduct an extensive external search for a new commissioner.
Appointed in May 2020, just weeks after London was placed into the first coronavirus lockdown, Mr Byford arrived with an excellent track record as former President and Chief Executive of the New York Transit Authority, where he oversaw the modernization of a troubled public Transport system was attributed.
He also ran the relevant network in Toronto, Canada whilst also holding positions in New South Wales, Australia and with a number of UK rail operators.
Mr Byford began his career in 1989 as a trainee with London Underground, eventually becoming General Manager of Customer Service on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines.
Other key operational moments during his tenure included this year’s Platinum Jubilee and the period of mourning following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, when London saw an influx of visitors eager to pay their respects.
TfL is also responsible for licensing private rental companies like Uber Technologies, with whom it has fought multiple lawsuits over its refusal to grant the ride-hailing app a long-term deal.
TfL declined to comment on Wednesday night.