Robert R. "Bob" Kiley (September 16, 1935 – August 9, 2016) was a public transit planner and supervisor, with a reputation of being able to save transit systems experiencing serious problems. From 2001 to 2006 he was the initial Commissioner of Transport for London, the public organisation empowered with running and maintaining London's public transport network.
Kiley also worked as a CIA agent, as the CEO of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Deputy Mayor of Boston, the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as President and CEO of the New York City Partnership. He is credited as being the architect of the revival of Boston and New York's ailing public transport systems in the 1970s and 1980s respectively.
Minneapolis, Boston and New York
Kiley was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and educated at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He graduated magna cum laude and went on to study at Harvard's Graduate School. In 1963 he joined the Central Intelligence Agency. The BBC reports that although former colleagues say it would be incorrect to regard Bob Kiley as a "spook" he did travel around the world in his role as Manager of Intelligence Operations. He later served as Executive Assistant to the Agency Director Richard Helms.
Kiley left the Agency in 1970 and embarked a career in management, with particular emphasis on transport. He first worked as an assistant director at the Police Foundation in Washington D.C. Two years later he became deputy mayor of Boston, a position he held for three years. In 1975 Kiley took on two new roles – one as adjunct professor of public management at Boston University – and the other as chairman and CEO of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He left the MBTA in 1979 and became a vice-president at the Management Analysis Center (now part of Cap Gemini). In 1983 Kiley moved down the east coast to become the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). He remained in the position until 1990 and in his time in the role secured state funding to the tune of $16bn to revitalise the railroads, buses and subways in the MTA region. Gene Russianoff, of the New York Straphangers Campaign, says that the money was spent wisely – "Even normally grudging New Yorkers say he did a good job," says Russianoff. The clean-up campaign involving arresting fare dodgers and cleaning up graffiti is now regarded as a prelude to the city-wide policy of "zero tolerance" enforced by Rudy Giuliani during his time as Mayor in the 1990s.
In 1991 Kiley moved to a new role as President of the New York construction company Fischbach Corporation. He briefly held the role of chairman too before moving again to become President and CEO of the New York City Partnership in 1995. From 1994 to 1998 he was also principal of Kohlberg & Company, a private equity investment house. Kiley's Transport for London biography notes that Kiley is also "Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, board member of the Salzburg Seminar, the American Repertory Theater, MONY Group Inc, the Princeton Review Inc and Edison Schools, Inc. He is also on the Advisory Board of the Harvard University Center for State and Local Government."
In January 2001 Bob Kiley moved across the Atlantic to become Chairman of London Regional Transport (the public body appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport to run London's Underground network of trains and also Commissioner of Transport for London, the public body which reports to the Mayor of London and which has increasingly been granted authority formerly held by London Regional Transport.
Kiley—who was given a $4m four-year contract—was regarded as a strange bedfellow for "Red" Ken Livingstone, the former firebrand socialist elected in 2000 as London's first mayor. Indeed they themselves described their working relationship as "a CIA activist working for an unreconstructed Trotskyite". However, Livingstone's and Kiley's views on London transport have proved very similar. Both were vehemently opposed to the government's plans for public-private partnerships (PPP) to run the Tube. Kiley was sacked as chairman of London Regional Transport in July 2001 amid repeated clashes with his boss, Transport Secretary Stephen Byers.
Remaining as Commissioner of Transport for London, he and Livingstone took the government to court in trying to prevent PPP. They failed, and in January 2003 three separate private companies took control of maintaining various tube lines. In July 2003 powers for running the rest of the Tube network, including manning and maintaining the stations, was transferred to Transport for London and London Regional Transport became defunct. Kiley welcomed the opportunity to take greater control over the running of the Tube, but warned that he felt he would be hampered by PPP: "I maintain that the Government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) is not the right way to manage the maintenance and renewal of the Tube. As they stand, the PPP contracts do not satisfactorily address the improvements to the Underground that TfL and the public demand. Nevertheless, we will do everything within our power to hold the infrastructure companies to account on those Tube improvements they have promised to deliver."
In November 2005 Kiley announced that he would be standing down in January 2006, after five years in the job. He was paid almost £2 million in a settlement for standing down, and remained as a £3,200-a-day consultant. He was replaced as Commissioner by Peter Hendy in February 2006.
- A biography from Transport for London
- A biography from BBC News
- "A message from Bob" to London tube users
- BBC News report on Kiley's sacking from the London Regional Transport
- BBC News report on Stephen Byer's sacking from the UK Government by Tony Blair
- Tube transfers to TfL control
- Evening Standard article on Kiley's contract extension in December 2004
- The Transport for London (TFL) website
- William Finnegan, Letter from London, “Underground Man—Can the former C.I.A. agent who saved New York’s subway get the Tube back on track?,” The New Yorker, February 9, 2004, p. 52-?