Dear Andy Byford, incoming president of New York City Transit:
Congrats on the new job. Being in charge of the city’s subway and buses is a big responsibility, but you come highly recommended. As CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission, the third-largest system in North America, you helped modernize key infrastructure and pulled off a subway extension. You focused on customer service, and you rode the bus. That all sounds great, but things are a little different in NYC.
Train delays are up, and the bus system is the slowest among big cities in the country. There’s train traffic ahead, always, and we’re running on infrastructure created when New York was still part of the empire, basically.
This city’s transit is a bare-knuckle business. It is encouraging that in July you got on the case of tardy streetcar suppliers in Toronto. You’ll need that kind of tough talk here because of blame-passing politicians, business leaders, bureaucrats, manufacturers and unions in NYC. But your language can use an upgrade. You told reporters that the streetcar people “know that I’m not a happy bunny.” May we suggest some four-letter words? Your boss, MTA chair Joe Lhota, knows the score on that front.
You’ve gotta be tough if you want a seat in this town. Have you been introduced to manspreading? If they do it in Toronto, we do it wider here. We have courtesy campaigns that mostly are something to make fun of while we pack into our ancient metal canisters.
The rats eat pizza along with everyone else in bus shelters and subway stations. Also falafel, churros, chicken, chocolate and bananas. Wait until you get a load of the trash we deposit on the tracks, also prone to flooding.
It’s one big mess, no matter how you look at it. But our biggest advice is that New Yorkers demand perfection, right away. You once told the Toronto Star, “Sometimes I feel like the general manager of the Leafs — everyone thinks he could do a better job than you.”
Wait until you meet some MetroCard swipers. Or Rangers fans.