Andy Byford, Transport Director for London (TfL), who helped run the capital’s bus and underground network through some of the most financially precarious periods in their history, has resigned. weeks after securing a new long-term funding deal.
Sky News can reveal that Mr Byford’s departure as TfL commissioner will be announced on Thursday morning.
His departure after nearly two and a half years in the job will leave the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, searching for a successor who can build on the outgoing leader’s legacy.
An industry source said on Wednesday night that Mr Byford had informed the mayor of his intention to step down several months ago.
He is expected to leave before the end of the year.
The TfL commissioner’s tenure saw him deliver the Elizabeth Line project – commonly known as Crossrail – after years of financial and operational problems.
The 73-mile route currently carries hundreds of thousands of passengers every day.
Byford’s most important short-term achievement, however, was the delivery of a long-term sponsorship deal to TfL two years after its balance sheet was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caught in a confrontation between Grant Shapps, then-transport minister, and TfL head Mr Khan were forced to manage the bus and metro network on short-term government handouts, at times only lasted a few days.
The organization has been limited in having to file formal bankruptcy notices in many cases, which is the acrimonious nature of the negotiations.
Its latest deal, completed late last month, runs through March 2024.
In total, TfL has been assigned £6 billion to stay afloat since the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020.
On Wednesday, Mr Khan said he would provide an additional £500m in funding to TfL, sparking proposals for council tax increases for Londoners affected by inflation.
The Mayor of London has also warned of significant cuts to services before the latest deal is signed, while he said last month that a “significant funding gap” remained and could mean fares will increase.
Pension reform remains a contentious issue at TfL at a time when much of the UK’s public transport network is being hit by industrial activity.
It was not clear on Wednesday evening whether Mr Byford, who has been seen by his colleagues as an inspirational leader in the ordeals of the past two years, intends to stay in the UK or if he has an invitation. do other things.
Industry analysts have pointed to Andy Lord, chief executive of TfL, as a logical insider candidate to take the helm.
Mr Lord joined TfL in 2019 and is responsible for the overall management of the London Underground network.
However, Mr Khan, who chairs the TfL, is expected to conduct an exhaustive external search to find a new commissioner.
Appointed in May 2020, just weeks after London was put into its first coronavirus lockdown, Mr Byford has achieved a stellar record as former chairman and chief executive officer of the Transport Authority. New York, where he is credited with modernizing the struggling public transit system. .
He also operates the equivalent network in Toronto, Canada, while he also holds roles in New South Wales, Australia, and at several UK rail operators.
Mr Byford began his career as a graduate intern at the London Underground in 1989, eventually becoming general manager of customer service on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines.
Among other key operational moments during his tenure were this year’s Platinum Year and the period of mourning following the Queen’s death, when London saw a large influx of visitors wanting to pay their respects. important.
TfL is also responsible for licensing private rental companies including Uber Technologies, which have faced several legal battles over their refusal to award long-term contracts to the ride-hailing app.
TfL declined to comment on Wednesday night.