Successful Brits in Toronto: Andy Byford

"Darn it, think I forgot to get milk"

The new Doctor Who isn’t keen on his Tardis upgrade

“Mind the gap! Mind the gap! Mind the –”

Andy Byford’s ringtone cuts off as he takes the call from Brits in Toronto. “Hold on,” he yells, “I’m just going into a tunnel …”

That scenario above might — OK, probably not — have happened recently. But now, thanks to one of the new initiatives under Mr. Byford’s watch, TTC subway users can now get free Wi-Fi at two stations: Bloor-Yonge and St. George (good choice) so, if you can’t call, you can at least text him to find out what time the next train is, mention it’s called the subway and not the Tube, and that trains drive on the RIGHT.

Brits in Toronto is very excited to put some questions to Andy Byford, Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Transit Commission:

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

Basically, I couldn’t resist the chance to lead a top-to-bottom transformation of the TTC. It’s a great compan,y but I think everyone would agree it could be much better with sustained funding and a can-do approach.

That plus it gave me instant “most favoured son-in-law” status from my Canadian parents-in-law for bringing their daughter home!

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

The process was pretty bureaucratic and lengthy. At one point, I nearly gave up as I had a great life in Sydney. When I arrived at Pearson, the immigration officer asked if I was mad to exchange the Aussie summer for the Canuck cold!

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Best: I love the variety and multicultural nature of the city. It also has a lot of great diners. Worst: not being able to see my beloved Plymouth Argyle (lose) every week.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I know quite a few Brits here but I mainly hang out with TTC colleagues and family-in-law. The Rebel House in Summerhill/Rosedale is my favourite pub and one that I must invite Michael Cooke to sample with me.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Eat more poutine. Along with the Canadarm, it’s Canada’s greatest invention.

OK, we can all go home now; when one Successful Brit in Toronto invites another Successful Brit in Toronto out for a pint, then our job is done!

G’night, and thanks Mr. Byford.


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