NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) --Will the new head of New York City Transit be the subway savior to end this nightmare, or will he become a new punching bag?
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Tuesday was the first day on the job for
Andy Byford, the new president of New York City Transit. Byford has a lot of people to please – 50,000 employees and two politicians with often competing agendas.
Kramer asked some commuters what they wanted to see Byford do first.
"Stop all the delays – way too many," said Jerome Jacobs of Staten Island. "I've been doing this for 10 years, and it just never stops."
"I think it's ridiculous to be standing like sardines," said a woman named Vicky.
"I live in the Flatbush, Brooklyn area and service is lousy," said a woman named Jillian. "We need better service – more trains and on time."
The first thing Byford did do was take the subway to Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters Tuesday, and said it's something that he plans to do every day.
"I will be riding the system every day, I've never owned a car in my life, I don't intend to buy a car here," Byford said.
He stepped off a No. 4 train at the Bowling Green station and described his commute from Grand Central as "flawless."
After Byford made the "flawless" comment, Kramer asked him what he was going to fix.
"Well, it seems that everything works perfectly now," Byford said.
But not everyone agrees.
"I waited for three cars up at Grand Central," said a commuter named Willis.
And while Byford is well aware of the yin and yang of running New York City Transit – good and bad commuters – he is also aware of the yin and yang of New York politics – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Byford said he'll sit down with the mayor to focus on ways to improve bus, subway and paratransit service for nearly 6 million riders. He also wants to boost worker morale.
Further, he wants out of Cuomo and de Blasio's brand of infighting.
"I will expect people to do a good job. Everyone's got to up their game, myself included" Byford said. "I know what needs to be done and my plea would be absolutely hold me to account, absolutely challenge me, keep my feet to the fire, but let me get on with the job."
Kramer asked Byford what his ideas were for increasing capacity and running more trains.
"In the short term, just get the machine to run more effectively," Byford said. "In the longer term, we have to bite the bullet. We have to find a way to upgrade the signaling on all of the lines."
Byford's last job was turning around a broken transit system in Toronto. As part of his turnaround, Byford shut down entire lines for repairs and the same could be in store for the city.
"There's no gain without some pain," Byford said. "Clearly you cannot upgrade signals effectively, you cannot do that properly unless you give track crews access to the track and that does mean that we will have to find a way of doing that."
He also said charging drivers to enter Midtown Manhattan is an idea worth studying.
In addition to Toronto, Byford has worked in London and Australia. Toronto has only 69 subway stations, while New York has 472.
Byford also said he has never, ever owned a car.
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