Brooklyn Boro

Chief of public transit systems in NYC, Boston, London dies

August 10, 2016 Associated Press
Bob Kiley is pictured in July 2003 at the Westminster underground station control room, one day before he was to assume overall control of the London Underground network. AP Photo/Sang Tan, FILE
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Robert Kiley, who is credited with revitalizing and modernizing public transportation networks in New York, Boston and London, has died. He was 80.

Kiley died Tuesday at his Chilmark home on Martha’s Vineyard of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to family spokesman Kenneth Campbell.

Kiley revived Boston’s public transport system in the 1970s and New York’s in the 1980s. He was commissioner of transport for London from 2001 to 2006, overseeing the rebuilding of the century-old Tube, its stations, subway cars and rail infrastructure.

Michael Dukakis, former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, appointed Kiley as chairman and CEO of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in 1975, even though he had no background in transportation.

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Kiley introduced a lottery system for hiring, opening well-paid jobs at the MBTA to minorities and women. He began Orange and Red line extension projects and ordered new commuter rail trains and buses.

“I teach public management these days at two great universities,” Dukakis said. “When my students want an example of public leadership at its best, I tell them about Bob.”

Kiley was appointed chairman and CEO of New York City’s MTA in 1983. He instituted management reforms and secured $8 billion in state capital funds to rebuild the system, which had been plagued by delays, derailments and graffiti.

Kiley was called “the most important American to come to Britain since Dwight Eisenhower” when he took over as commissioner of transport for London in 2001. In five years, he oversaw rebuilding there despite his opposition to the government’s plan that gave control of some aspects of the system to private companies.

Kiley was born in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He worked for the CIA and other organizations before his career in transportation.

He is survived by his second wife, Rona, two sons and one granddaughter. His first wife, Patricia, as well as a 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, died in a car crash in 1974.

A memorial service is planned for October in New York.


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