Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone remembers Bob Kiley, London’s first Transport Commissioner, who passed away on Tuesday.
Bob Kiley was the most important appointment I ever made in my political career.
He’d been put in charge of transforming the Boston and New York metros and had been incredibly successful at it.
When I became Mayor, London Underground was such a mess, the bureaucracy was a shambles and we desperately needed to bring in someone who could make changes.
There was no-one else who could do the job.
Bob brought in a whole new team and together they completely transformed the Underground.
During his time he also delivered other big successes including the congestion charge and Oyster card which came in and worked from day one despite some people’s predictions.
The one disappointment was Gordon Brown pushing through the Tube PPP despite us saying he should let Bob get on with the work which needed doing.
If he had, the Tube would be completely transformed today with all new trains and signalling.
But Gordon refused to even meet with Bob despite normally being in love with all things American. In the end Bob was proven right and TfL had to take over the PPP contractors.
There have been many improvements but Bob would have got them done sooner.
As well as being incredibly effective, Bob was a wonderful guy.
He had all these stories from his time in CIA. Going out for a meal with him and listening to those stories was a wonderful experience.