Queens lawmakers lament Andy Byford’s departure from MTA

Photo by Mark Hallum

When Assemblyman Michael DenDekker began hearing fierce complaints from his constituents in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Corona and Woodside about the MTA’s plan to redesign the Queens bus network he scheduled a feedback meeting with the agency to give residents an opportunity to discuss the proposals.

DenDekker said representatives of the MTA would be present at the meeting last Wednesday including planners that would be available to field questions and concerns regarding the draft plan. NYC Transit President Andy Byford showed up at the public meeting and proceeded to handle the angry crowd for nearly an hour-and-a-half.

Byford resigned from the MTA Thursday morning, after two years on the job. State Senator Michael Gianaris took note of his leadership style.

“Andy Byford’s resignation is a loss to transit riders throughout New York,” Gianaris said. “He was a consummate professional who was poised to effectively use additional resources secured for transit by the state legislature. The next New York City Transit President must be someone who focused on increasing accessibility, effectively using new revenue, and improving service on our subways and buses.”

City Councilman Barry Grodenchik, who signed on to a letter from the entire Queens delegation to the City Council calling for significant changes to the MTA’s bus redesign proposals that was released just hours before Byford’s resignation, also hailed his leadership on Twitter.

“Sorry to see Mr. Byford leaving the MTA,” Grodenchik said. “In my interactions with him over the past two years, I thought he had a passion and drive to improve mass transit services which he did. He will be missed.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos, a 7 train rider who campaigned on the need for improvement to the mass transit system, took note of Byford’s success. Only 58 percent of the trains were on time the month he started, but after a series of reforms, Byford pushed the on-time rate past 80%.

“Andy Byford is a mobility visionary,” Ramos said on Twitter. “When state leaders were chugging along, Andy took the express track to propose plans to transform our outdated public transit into a world-class system. This is unfortunate.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called Byford’s resignation devastating.

“It is a really bad day for New York City and the seven million people who take the subways and buses every day. It’s a shame and it’s unacceptable,” Johnson said. “I think Andy is someone who has really turned the system around in a short period of time and the challenges remain,” such as the Queens bus network redesign.

DenDekker announced on Twitter that he had contacted MTA chairman Patrick Foye and received his word that the agency would follow through with a slate of public workshops over the coming weeks to listen to commuters concerns about the bus redesign proposals.

“I have personally spoken to Chairman Foye, who grew up in Jackson Heights, and he has assured me we will continue to work together on the Queens Bus Redesign and its impact on Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Corona and Woodside,” DenDekker said.

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