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Andy Byford, the transit government who was employed to rescue New York City’s floundering subway, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have more and more clashed over administration of the system, and a number of other of Mr. Byford’s colleagues mentioned they feared he would possibly give up.
The two males didn’t communicate between January and April, whilst Mr. Byford was searching for to maneuver ahead on a sweeping $40 billion plan to overtake the subway within the subsequent decade.
If Mr. Byford, who was employed in November 2017, had been to step down, it could be a serious blow to efforts to enhance the system, which has been tormented by antiquated tools, value overruns and rising complaints from riders about persistent mismanagement. In latest years, New York’s subways have had one of many worst on-time charges of any main fast transit system on this planet.
Mr. Byford and Mr. Cuomo have disagreed over the plan to repair the L prepare, new know-how to improve subway alerts, the excessive value of Mr. Byford’s “Fast Forward” overhaul plan and Mr. Cuomo’s common criticism of the authority.
Mr. Byford’s colleagues mentioned he was troubled that he didn’t have the help that he believes he wants from Mr. Cuomo to hold out formidable plans for the system.
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, in flip has felt that Mr. Byford has been reluctant to embrace new know-how and wanted to know the governor’s position because the elected official most liable for the efficiency of the subways.
Contacted this week, Mr. Byford and a spokeswoman for the governor sought to downplay tensions, and mentioned Mr. Byford had no plans to resign. But the spokeswoman, Dani Lever, mentioned, the “leadership team must deliver real results in real time,” referring to Mr. Byford.
Several individuals who have spoken with Mr. Byford, together with colleagues on the transit company, mentioned they had been deeply nervous he would go away.
Richard Ravitch, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who’s credited with turning across the system within the 1980s, mentioned he had dinner with Mr. Byford in February and was struck by how sad he was.
“I’m afraid he’s going to quit,” Mr. Ravitch mentioned of Mr. Byford.
Andrew Albert, a longtime M.T.A. board member, mentioned he tried to guarantee Mr. Byford that he had the help of subway riders, who’re rooting for him to succeed.
“I’m very concerned — I don’t think that he would be fired,” Mr. Albert mentioned. “I’m worried that he would quit.”
Mr. Byford seemed to be pissed off with “interference in his daily duties” from Mr. Cuomo and his aides, Mr. Albert mentioned.
“He wants to be able to get on and do the job he was hired to do,” Mr. Albert mentioned.
Asked in an interview whether or not he was pissed off, Mr. Byford mentioned “any job has its frustrations.”
“I know what needs to be done here,” he mentioned. “I need to be allowed to get on with what needs to be done, and I’m very happy to be held accountable for that.”
Asked when he had final spoken with Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Byford mentioned: “Sometime in January.”
Mr. Byford later mentioned by electronic mail that he had not “seriously considered quitting.”
“I love New York, I love this job, I believe in this system, I believe in this agency, and I’m here for the very long haul,” he wrote, earlier than including: “The governor and I are partners in this fight and I want to stay in this job until it is done.”
Ms. Lever, the spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, mentioned he had not misplaced religion in Mr. Byford or tried to sideline him.
The two males had not spoken since January, she mentioned, as a result of Mr. Cuomo had been targeted on the state finances and congestion pricing, a plan to toll cars entering the heart of Manhattan to raise money for the subway.
“We do not understand your fixation with personal drama,” Ms. Lever said in response to questions from The New York Times, noting that Mr. Cuomo primarily spoke with the authority’s chairman, Patrick J. Foye.
Mr. Byford is president of New York City Transit, an arm of the authority that runs the subway and buses. Mr. Cuomo, who controls the authority, interviewed Mr. Byford and helped hire him for the job. Only a year ago, the pair were photographed on the subway tracks together showcasing a new “magnetic wand” that removes steel dust from the tracks.
Mr. Byford, who is British, had received accolades for leading the Toronto transit system, where he won an award for transit system of the year from the American Public Transportation Association. He has also worked on both London and Sydney’s transit networks.
Some of Mr. Byford’s colleagues said his rock star status — with profiles in The New Yorker and on 60 Minutes — may have irked Mr. Cuomo. They compared the dynamic to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his police commissioner, William J. Bratton — men who fought for the limelight. Mr. Bratton resigned in 1996 shortly after being on the cover of Time magazine.
The subway has improved under Mr. Byford, though some riders say it is still unreliable. The on-time rate has increased to 78 percent from 65 percent — the highest rate in years. Mr. Byford said he wanted to keep pushing the rate higher past 80 or 90 percent.
But Ms. Lever said the $40 billion price tag for Mr. Byford’s overhaul plan was “an incredible sum to come by.” She also said Mr. Cuomo expected more progress from the transit authority after he secured new funding through congestion pricing.
One of the biggest rifts between the two men occurred over the repairs to the L train tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The transit authority had originally planned to shut down service in the tunnel to do the renovations.
But in January, Mr. Cuomo called off the L train shutdown and announced a different repair plan that would keep the service in the tunnel running by allowing for work at night and on weekends.
Days later, Mr. Byford said he wanted to hire an independent team to assess the safety of the new plan and that he would not be “steamrolled” into rushing his review.
The M.T.A. board eventually hired a consultant to monitor the work and Mr. Byford has said he supports the new plan.
But Mr. Byford was suddenly unavailable for interviews with reporters and did not appear at hearings with state lawmakers to lobby for congestion pricing, which will allow the state to raise $15 billion for the transit system.
“Maybe the governor didn’t realize how independent he was going to be,” said Mr. Ravitch, the former chairman of the authority.
Mr. Cuomo is known as a demanding boss. During a visit to the Second Avenue subway in 2016, he grew angry about a faulty escalator. He walked around shouting, “Who is working on the escalator?” until the person appeared.
Mr. Byford is not the first transit leader to tangle with Mr. Cuomo. The authority’s former chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, a respected subway veteran, stepped down in 2017 after also growing frustrated with Mr. Cuomo’s management, according to several colleagues.
Mr. Prendergast said on Friday that his retirement was not related to the governor, but several colleagues said it was a factor.
Mr. Byford and Mr. Cuomo have disagreed over other issues. The governor has pressed Mr. Byford to focus on a new technology, known as ultra-wideband radio, for signal repairs. Mr. Byford prefers a proven approach, known as communications-based train control — a technology Mr. Cuomo has mocked as archaic, though it is being used in cities like London.
Mr. Byford says he needs $19 billion over the next five years for his “Fast Forward” plan. Mr. Cuomo has said the authority was asking for too much money for its next capital plan.
Even the recent subway improvements have been a point of conflict.
Mr. Cuomo credits his “Subway Action Plan,” which is spending roughly $800 million on subway upgrades. Transit advocates say Mr. Byford’s “Save Safe Seconds” plan — to streamline train operations, increase speed limits and fix faulty signals — has been equally important.
Mr. Foye, who was recently named chairman by Mr. Cuomo, said he supported Mr. Byford.
“I think he’s even more of a rock star than I thought when he came here,” Mr. Foye said in an interview.
Still, Veronica Vanterpool, an M.T.A. board member, said she was also worried that Mr. Byford would resign.
“I’m fearful that now that we have someone who has worked so tirelessly to restore public confidence,” she said, “that if he leaves, it would be a significant setback for the agency.”
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