Happening Now

Andy Byford To Join Amtrak: StreetsblogNYC

March 23, 2023

By Jim Mathews/President & CEO

America is getting its own “Train Daddy,” and your Association is thrilled. Andy Byford, the brilliant and customer-focused former head of the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority pushed out due to political clashes with then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is apparently joining Amtrak on April 10 to head the railroad’s high-speed rail efforts.

An all-hands email reportedly went out to Amtrak employees today, and StreetsblogNYC picked it up, although Amtrak won’t confirm it officially.

In my view, Amtrak shouldn’t be coy about announcing its triumph here. The British-born Byford is one of the best hires the railroad could have made – ever – and his record of achievement and success bodes incredibly well for putting Amtrak on the right, er, track.

New Yorkers, famously rough on newcomers and out-of-towners, quickly embraced Byford during his three very short years pulling the MTA out of crisis, tagging him “Train Daddy," and mobbing him like a rock star during his daily trips around the system, often in his orange safety vest. With Byford at the controls, subway routes began running closer to on time, things got cleaner, repairs and refurbishment got visibly underway after decades of neglect, and concrete plans emerged to make NY’s vast network of subways and buses actually work for the fare-paying public.

He didn’t just do a great job in New York, either. After giving up on his fights with Cuomo, Byford went back to the U.K. to oversee the successful launch of Transport for London’s Elizabeth Line as TfL’s commissioner.

It’s no secret that Amtrak could use top-drawer executive talent as it begins to absorb the largest influx of Federal dollars at one time that it has ever enjoyed in its entire history. And delays in important programs – like the new Acela trainsets – leave the railroad vulnerable to political attacks just as those dollars begin to flow. Byford has the experience, the pedigree, the personality, and the track record to help put things right. Rail Passengers congratulates Amtrak on attracting such a transportation star to its ranks, and we look forward to working closely with him to help move Amtrak – and American transportation – solidly into the 21st century.