Leicester alumnus Andy Byford set to save New Yorks neglected subways

Leicester alumnus Andy Byford, who studied German and French at Leicester, has recently taken up the monumental task of turning around New York's ageing, failing subway system.

Having previously been responsible for running transport systems in London, Sydney and Toronto, Andy is no stranger to making sure the trains and buses in major cities run on time. Recently appointed president of the New York City Transit Authority, Andy’s next mission is to fix up New York’s ailing public transport system.

Overcrowding, ageing equipment and signal failures mean the average number of hours lost in New York’s public transport system due to delays increased by 45% in just five years. On top of this, the signalling system - the technology that tells subway cars to move from one station to another - has not been updated since the 1930s.

Revitalising these outdated systems may sound like a considerable challenge, but Andy is well placed to tackle it. Starting his career as a uniformed station foreman, Andy climbed the ranks to become general manager for Kings Cross Tube Station. From there, he worked in transport around the UK before heading to Sydney, Australia in 2009, where he was the chief operating officer for RailCorp, which at the time ran the city's commuter rails.

In his new role, one of Andy's first priorities will be to fix the bus service in New York, which has been sorely neglected for years.

Other plans for reorganising the company are hidden away in Andy's ‘war room’ - a spare office with four walls covered in white boards so that Andy can sketch out his ideas.

Andy’s achievements and plans for reforming New York’s subway system have recently been reported on by the BBC, with an in-depth feature (rather fittingly) appearing in The New Yorker.  

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