TORONTO — The chief executive officer of Toronto's transit agency is leaving his post to take a job as president and CEO of New York City Transit.
Andy Byford — who announced his resignation Tuesday, six years after joining the Toronto Transit Commission — will remain on the job until Dec. 22, when deputy CEO Rick Leary is expected to take over as acting CEO.
Byford told a news conference his time at the TTC has been the "absolute highlight" of his 28-year transit career to date.
He says running New York City Transit is arguably the toughest job in transit right now and he's looking forward to taking up the challenge beginning in mid-January.
Byford says his last task in Toronto will be to open a long-awaited subway extension from north Toronto to Vaughan, Ont.
Byford said he is most proud of his work on changing the prevailing culture at the TTC to make the organization more diverse and focus on supporting its employees.
"World-class service can only be delivered through a highly motivated, well-informed team that wants to succeed and that feels supported in their mission," he said. "We have put huge effort into changing the way we manage — focusing our attention on the vast majority of TTC employees that deliver great service day in and day out."
Byford described an order of new streetcars from Bombardier (BBDb.TO) as an "immensely frustrating" part of his time as CEO.
"The fact that we only have 50 new streetcars now when we really should have about 150 of them is both a disappointment and a frustration," he said. "Until the day I leave, every week now I'm having a weekly conference call with Bombardier to go through unit by unit where is it, when are we getting it."
Toronto Mayor John Tory says Byford is leaving the TTC in much better shape than it was when he became CEO.
"Byford has been no less than superb when it comes to taking the tens of millions of additional dollars city council has given the TTC ... and investing this new money quickly and wisely in restoring services previously cut and adding new service," Tory said.
Ontario's transportation minister also wished Byford well.
"On behalf of the province of Ontario I want to thank Andy not only for his leadership at the TTC but also for his unwavering and unquestionable dedication to getting the people of Toronto moving," Steven Del Duca said in a statement.
Byford came to the TTC from Australia, where he held the position of CEO for the Rail Corporation New South Wales. He had also previously held several positions with rail operators in the United Kingdom, including the London Underground.