It looked more like a royal reception than a farewell party for bureaucrats.
Crowds of mountaineering fans fought for selfies and screamed Words of praise. The oboe sang the crowd sang. A modest man in a sharp suit floated in a sea of fans.
This was the scene on Friday, as Andy Bayford, head of the New York City subway, left his office for the last time.
Mr. Bayford announced his resignation four weeks ago, which bothers many workers and knights, and ends a two-year period marked by repeated conflicts with state governor Andrew M. Como, who controls the subway and recruits Mr. Beaford to New York.
“Is there any work going on in New York City transit right now?” Mr Byford told hundreds of workers who occupied the lobby at Brooklyn headquarters for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the metro. Then he mentioned the goals he set within 766 days in the job.
“I think we did a really good job, what do you think?” He said.
The crowd erupted amid cheers and applause.
It was a strange sight: hardly any government official in New York would be given a flow of affection, much less in an agency often ignored by subway riders and even transport workers.
Mr. Byford started the day in an exemplary fashion, by taking tours of various metro stations.
While visiting Manhattan’s 23rd Street Station on the F line, he met with Jermaine Jackson, one of the group’s 22 station managers who are responsible for ensuring the stations are clean and that escalator and escalator machines are working.
Mr. Byford created the positions in 2018, and almost every manager has visited since. Mrs. Jackson was the last on the list.
“He is known for putting his people first,” she said. “We are all so sad to see him go.”
Mr Byford said in an interview on Friday that when he took office, he had hoped to lead the New York City Transit, the department that oversees the subway and buses, for five or even 10 years.
He inherited a system in crisis, crippled by constant delays that left riders feeling that they could not depend on the subway to get them to where they need to be on time. Things got so bad that Mr. Como declared a state of emergency and committed more than $ 800 million to improvements.
Mr. Byford focused on essentials such as signal upgrades and train maintenance to help reverse the steep decline in the system. When he arrived in New York, only 58 percent of the trains ran on time. Today, the rate is better than 80 percent.
Still, though Mr. Byford’s Achievements, The metro is far from the kind of modern, dynamic system for the future of New York. And Mr. Byford, despite beating riders and workers, was unable to beat the man he hired.
He and Mr. Como never seemed to agree. They clashed over the high cost of Mr Fastord’s “Fast Forward” plan to overhaul the outdated system, which was the best technology for signal upgrading and how to fix the L train, a key link between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Behind the dispute was a rivalry between two leading figures for the same role: the one New Yorkers agree to fix the subway.
On Train F on Friday, many New Yorkers made their choice known.
“thank you!” Some shouted to Mr. Byford. “we will miss you!” Others shouted.
“I did a better job, and I’m a new generation of The New Yorker,” said Matt Rosenberg, 51, as he approached Mr. Beeford to shake hands. “I still remember the icons.”
While leaving Delancey Street station in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Rosenberg expressed his common concern to many who believed that Mr. Byford’s leadership had The system turned around.
“I don’t think the service will deteriorate immediately, but in the long term, I am concerned about how the governor will keep what he has done,” he said.
Mr. Byford said that the authority faces a major challenge in implementing its ambition A $ 54 billion capital plan, the largest initiative in the agency’s history. The authority still has to collect all the money it needs to finance the plan.
He also said that focusing on the fundamentals and maintaining high morale among workers would be crucial to further improving the subway.
“Maintaining the upward path that we are now, we cannot back down, we cannot slide backward,” he said.
Although Mr. Bayford said he was not sure what to do next – many potential employers had called him, but he planned to stay in New York.
On Friday, he devoted much of his time to transport workers, some of whom expressed concern that his departure would affect the agency’s morale.
He chatted tollbooth clerks. He shares the grip of bumps with cleaners. He congratulated a Signal Signal worker on Delancey Street who had worked at the agency for 34 years.
Mr Byford, whose fans gave him the affectionate nickname “Train Daddy”, marveled at the decades-old switchboard and questioned her placement in his apartment one day.
He said: “My wife will kill me.” “It is already saying that our apartment is turning into a transit museum.”
Taking one of his last glimpses behind the curtain and into the underworld metro maze, his position was equal parts Transit to the student and ally Witch Riders.
“I am proud of the New York City Transit Administration; he said, before going through layers of dust in an abandoned corridor below Manhattan’s Broadway East Station, it is the pinnacle of any career in transportation.” It was my life’s ambition. ”