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TfL commissioner Andy Byford backs down in main blow to Sadiq Khan

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The ondon transport commissioner unexpectedly attacked the mayor Sadiq Khan.

Andy Byford, the famously charismatic determine who led Transport for London for greater than two years, will go away the crisis-hit group on the finish of October, it was introduced on Thursday morning.

He’ll return to the US along with his Canadian-born spouse, calling time on a 33-year profession within the public sector that started as a graduate trainee on the London Underground in 1989.

His choice to stop the £355,000-a-year submit prompts Mr Khan to hunt his third commissioner at a time when TfL’s post-pandemic funds stay precarious, with one in 4 weekday passengers but to return to the Tube.

Simply on Wednesday, Mr Khan introduced that Metropolis Corridor would supply as much as £500m of Londoners’ money to assist TfL steadiness its books over the following 18 months.

Mr Byford led TfL by means of the “darkish days” of the pandemic, which he described as “essentially the most troublesome interval in its historical past”.

He advised the Customary he had change into “exhausted however by no means worn out” by the relentless battle to safe Authorities bailout funding – there have been 5 short-term offers and 9 funding extensions because the Division for Transport stalled on giving TfL a long-term answer to the “catastrophic” collapse in numbers passenger.

Mr Byford additionally turned disillusioned on the “mind funnel” of key colleagues, and advised the mayor publicly: “Virtually each week I’m advised that somebody will go away with extra money, much less stress and extra safety from workplace.”

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There’s a row over his choice to start out handing again bonuses in a bid to retain workers, ought to TfL ask till subsequent March – though Mr Byford stated he would refuse to take them himself.

TfL can also be going through additional Tube strikes over the axing of as much as 600 station posts and the necessity to reduce £100m from the price of its workers pension scheme beneath Authorities orders. As well as, a bus strike has been known as subsequent month in a dispute over salaries.

Mr Byford, identified to insiders as Prepare Daddy, a nickname from his time as New York Subway boss, first spoke to the mayor on Could 31 about his plans to go away TfL.

In a two-page handwritten letter to Mr Khan, he thanked him for his “friendship, steering and assist” and stated: “It has really been a tremendous two and a half years and I’ll at all times be pleased about the chance to finish my transport journey on the very high.”

Mr Byford has been employed by the mayor, from a discipline of greater than 100 candidates, after leaving his submit as president of New York Metropolis Transit after two years, after he fell out with New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Mr Byford stated he left after attaining his aim of opening the long-delayed £20bn Elizabeth line and securing TfL’s long-term funding.

On the time of his arrival, Crossrail was on account of open in the summertime of 2021. It was on account of open in Could this yr. When the primary practice left on time, Mr Byford acquired a bear hug from the mayor.

Mr Byford additionally urged, when taking the TfL job, that opening Crossrail and restoring TfL’s funds was the primary a part of a “five-year imaginative and prescient”.

He stated right now: “After I got here to TfL, I set two clear priorities – to open the Elizabeth line with out additional delay and to guide TfL out of the pandemic and right into a financially sustainable future.

“Opening Elizabeth’s line was, certainly, the spotlight of my profession – made really poignant as a result of it was one of many final main occasions attended by Her Majesty the Queen.

“With a long-term monetary settlement with the Authorities now in place I can now go away with TfL arrange pretty to maneuver positively ahead.”

Mr Khan stated: “Andy Byford deserves an enormous thanks for his laborious work and dedication, main Transport for London by means of an unbelievable time in its historical past.

“From retaining town afloat throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, to the historic opening of the Elizabeth line this yr, Andy has offered Londoners with an excellent service.”

However there’s concern at Metropolis Corridor. Siân Berry, chairman of the London Meeting’s transport committee, stated: “Regardless of strategies that that is the deliberate departure, we’re shocked and shocked by this announcement.

“Our important concern now, is that these surprising adjustments is not going to disrupt the restoration of London’s public transport community.”

Nick Rogers, the GLA’s Conservative transport spokesman, stated Mr Khan’s mayor was “in chaos”. He stated: “Final month, proof of his dangerous conduct in direction of the previous Met Police commissioner got here to gentle.

“Now he has misplaced his TfL commissioner, who has been pressured to spend two years navigating the Mayor’s pointless political video games concerning the TfL deal. His departure is a loss for town.”

Manuel Cortes, normal secretary of the TSSA union, stated: “We’re sorry to see Andy go. We might by no means have seen eye to eye, however his dedication to the general public service and, particularly, public transport in London, was nice.

“We actually hope that Andy’s departure doesn’t imply additional cuts to Transport for London because the Tories’ long-term funding deal has left an enormous gap of their funds.”

Andy Lord, TfL’s deputy commissioner and former head of London Underground, will function interim commissioner. The seek for a brand new commissioner will start shortly.

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