In Memory of Bob Kiley

(Ed. Note: Bob Kiley, former head of the Boston and New York City transit agencies and the unified London transport agency, passed away on August 9.)

The transit industry has lost an outstanding leader and many of us have lost a good friend.

I have known Bob Kiley for 35 years and came to know him well after he became Chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). When Bob arrived at the MTA I was president of Metro North Railroad, one of the operating agencies under the MTA umbrella.

Bob came to the MTA at a critical time. While the MTA had recently secured its first multi-year capital program, it was faced with serious operating problems. Nowhere was this more evident than on the subways and buses operated by the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA).

Bob quickly recognized that the NYCTA lacked a workable management structure, one that established responsibility and demanded accountability. Only with such a structure would the NYCTA be able to produce a good return on the multi-year capital investment that was underway.  And only then would the customers get better service and would the credibility of the nations largest public transportation systems be restored.

Bob was always very clear about his priorities and goals, and was extremely articulate in expressing himself. I do not believe that any of us who worked with him were ever uncertain about what he meant and what he hoped to achieve.

Bob would keep up with the various heads of the operating agencies through weekly one on ones. These meetings would last anywhere from five minutes to an hour or so, depending on whether or not there was some sort of crisis.

Since Bob and I were Bob and I were both cigar smokers at that time, we would sometimes relax and have a cigar when we weren’t facing a crisis. Occasionally when Bob did not like my response to his question, he would go in to what I called his CIA mode. He would stare at me and ask, just with his eyes, “would you like to try that again?”

So, we say goodbye to Bob Kiley.

All of us who knew him – especially those who worked with him – are indebted to him.

He left every place he ever worked better off than when he started. I certainly benefited from what he had accomplished when I succeeded him as chairman and CEO of the MTA.

He was a real professional, a man of great integrity, a leader in our industry, and a good friend.

He will be missed.

(Image: HANDOUT)

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