It looks more like a royalty reception than a farewell party for the bureaucracy.
Lots of clubbing fans who shouted at the selfie fight Words of praise. The bagpipers calmed the crowd. And a humble man in a sharp suit floats through a sea of fans.
The scene was on Friday, with New York City departing subway chief Andy Byford leaving his office for the last time.
Mr Byford announced his resignation four weeks ago, expelling many staff and drivers, and ended a two-year term marked by repeated confrontation with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who controls the subway and appointed Mr. Byford to New York.
“Is there any work on New York City Transit right now?” Mr Byford told hundreds of workers filling the lobby at the subway-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Brooklyn headquarters. He then listed his goals in his 766 days of service.
“I think we’ve done really well, do you think?” He said.
The crowd began to cheer and groan.
It was an amazing scene: There was rarely an incident in New York to spread affection to a government official, hardly an underground railway driver even being subdued by transit workers.
Mr. Byford started the ordinary day by doing rounds at various subway stations
Popping at F-Line’s Manhattan’s 21st Street Station, he met with Germany Jackson, one of the 22 so-called group station operators who were responsible for ensuring that the stations were clean and the MetroCard machines and escalators were working.
Mr Byford made the position in 2018 and since then he has seen almost every manager. Mrs. Jackson was the last on the list.
“He is known for putting his people first,” he said. “We are all so sorry to see him go.”
Mr. Byford said in an interview Friday that when he took the job, he expected New York City Transit, the division that oversees the subway and buses, to run for five or even ten years.
He inherited a system in crisis, was paralyzed by constant delays and drivers felt that they could not rely on the subway to get the time they needed. Things got so shocking that Mr Cuomo declared a state of emergency and pledged $ 800 million in improvements.
Mr Byford focused on the basics such as signal upgrades and train maintenance to help reverse the steep decline in the system. When he arrived in New York, only 58 percent of the trains were on time. Today, the rate is better than 5 percent.
Nevertheless, nonetheless Mr. Byford’s success, the subway remains far from the most sophisticated system for the future of New York. And even after winning over Mr Byford, drivers and staff, he could not win against the man hired.
He and Mr Cuomo never seemed to agree. They clashed over the high cost of Mr Byford’s “fast forward” plan to balance the archaeological system, a key link between Brooklyn and Manhattan, which technology was best for upgrading signals and repairing the L train.
Behind the controversies was a competition between two commanding personalities to play the same role: New Yorkers would deal with fixing the subway.
On an F train Friday, many New Yorkers made their choice.
“Thanks!” Some shouted to Mr. Byford. “We will miss you!” The shouts of others
“You’ve done the best you can, and I’m a second-generation New Yorker,” Matt Rosenberg, 51, said of Mr. Byford to take his hand. “I still remember the token.”
Leaving Delancey Street station in Lower Manhattan, Mr Rosenberg has expressed concern by many who believe that Mr Byford’s leadership was Rotate the system.
He said, “I don’t think the service will decline immediately,” but in the long term, I’m concerned about how the governor will keep moving forward. ”
Mr Byford said authorities face a major challenge in carrying out his ambitious work The $ 54 billion capital plan is the largest initiative in the agency’s history. The authority still has to collect all the money needed for the plan.
He also said that it is important to focus on the basics and keep morale among the workers in order to continue improving the subway.
“We cannot take back the upward trajectory that we have now maintained, we cannot back down,” he said.
Although Mr Byford said he was unsure what to do next – several appointees contacted him, he said – he was planning to stay in New York.
On Friday, he spent most of his time in transit for workers, some of whom expressed concern that his departure would seriously damage the morale of the company.
He interacted with the Tollbooth clerks. He shares fists with cleaners. He congratulates a staff at the Delancey Street Signal Tower who has worked for the agency for 34 years.
Mr Byford, whose fans nicknamed him “Train Daddy”, was surprised by the man’s decades-old switchboard and was surprised to hear that he was being kept in his apartment one day.
“My wife would kill me,” he said. “He has already said that our apartment is turning into a transit museum.”
The back of the screen and the labyrinthine subterranean submarine took one of its last glimpses, equal parts of his attitude were concerned about transit and the charming riders’ allies.
“I am proud to handle New York City Transit; Before walking down an abandoned wastewater layer beneath Manhattan’s East Broadway station, he said it was the peak of a transit professional’s career “that was my life’s ambition.”