The man Andy Byford handpicked to oversee the MTA’s multi-billion dollar signal overhaul resigned Friday, just a day after his boss called it quits.
Byford brought in Pete Tomlin — his signaling expert from the London Underground — in December 2018 to oversee the $7 billion effort to replace and computerize the Depression-era systems that control New York’s subways.
“The departure was expected as Pete was hired by Andy a little over a year ago. We thank Pete for his service and wish him well in the future,” MTA rep Abbey Collins said in a statement.
The departure of the two Brits marks the end of the MTA’s pushback against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who feuded with Byford over his signaling proposals, the L train shutdown overhaul and the governor’s frequent mockery of the MTA’s workforce.
Signaling proved the longest-running fight, as Cuomo pushed Byford to use largely untested radio technology to link the trains together that would avoid some of the pain and cost that comes with track rewiring required for traditional Computer Based Train Control.
The Brits finally threw in the towel after it became clear that the MTA’s Cuomo-engineered reorganization stripped the proud Byford of much of his say over major subway projects, transit sources said.
“Byford wasn’t going to be given the deference of a president or someone who has spent 30-plus years as a transit professional,” one source close to Byford told The Post. “He was just going to be someone who gives commentary and advice that gets put into notes.”
Byford’s resignation letter released by the MTA on Thursday made no mention of signals, but he described his “reduced role” as “solely focused on the day-to-day running of service.”
On Tuesday, Byford was sidelined during a board committee meeting on signals, while Tomlin read a prepared statement touting the prospects of Cuomo’s radio solution — known as ultra-wideband. Neither man took questions.
The developments struck longtime MTA staffers and observers as odd.
“They literally put Andy Byford on the sidelines during the signals presentation,” said one transit insider. “Andy was sitting behind him in the peanut gallery.”
Cuomo began laying the groundwork for the MTA overhaul that would push Byford out as early as February 2019, after the Transit president’s profile was bolstered by a profile in The New Yorker and a “60 Minutes” interview.
Cuomo’s “10-point plan to transform and fund the MTA” published in February explicitly called for stripping Byford and the MTA’s other agency heads of key functions and consolidated them into a centralized bureaucracy.
It proposed to move capital improvements — including the signal tech upgrades Byford made a cornerstone of his $40 billion Fast Forward plan — out of New York City Transit and into MTA HQ’s capital construction division.
In July, consultant AlixPartners produced a report that mimicked the Cuomo plan — sparking outrage from transit activists and good-government watchdogs.
“Cuomo’s [board] appointees made it very clear what they wanted the outcome to be,” a source familiar with the reorganization study said.
Seeking to tamp down the criticism, the consultants denied Byford would lose control of the computerization project. But keeping signals didn’t stop the diminishment of his other authorities, sources said.
“Every week, or every two weeks, another little piece of news would pop — ‘OK, now this is moving somewhere else,’ ‘OK, now that’s moving,’” said the source close to Byford.
“There were very candid conversations … where it became clear it wasn’t going to be collaborative” with the new executives installed by Cuomo’s reorganization, the source said.
Both Byford and Tomlin’s resignations were first reported by Politico.
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