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Bob Kiley obituary

New York transport chief recruited by Ken Livingtone to run TfL

On the day Bob Kiley was appointed to run Transport for London, the capital’s Evening Standard ran the banner headline: New York Tough Guy to Run the Tube. The mayor Ken Livingstone’s decision to look overseas for his first TfL chief officer (the government had previously appointed an interim one) in 2001 was a sign of how important the new transport agency was to become. Kiley, who has died aged 80, had previously run the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City, which runs the railway, subway and bus system. By choosing an overseas official, Livingstone brought enhanced stature to the new role.

Kiley was styled “commissioner”, revealing the US influence on the then new office of London mayor. The Metropolitan police had always been led by a commissioner, not a chief constable, but Livingstone aggrandised the Greater London Authority’s transport and fire chiefs by giving them the same title. Soon after Kiley’s appointment, a British diplomat told him he was “the most important American to come to Britain since Dwight Eisenhower”.

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