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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Q&A: Bob Kiley dismissed

Bob Kiley has been sacked by Transport Secretary Stephen Byers as chairman and board member of London Regional Transport.

But what does it mean and where does management of the capital's crumbling transport infrastructure go from here?

Who is Bob Kiley?

He is the American who was brought in at great expense by London mayor Ken Livingstone to turn around London's transport system.

His credentials for the job rested on six years in the 1980s spent in charge of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

During this time, he oversaw a $20bn investment programme. He is credited with turning a dilapidated, dirty and unreliable subway train system in a smoothly functioning and professionally managed operation.

Mr Kiley is also a former CIA agent.

What has he been sacked from and why?

Transport Secretary Stephen Byers has sacked Mr Kiley from being chairman and board member of London Transport Authority - positions the government only appointed him to in May.

Mr Byers accused Mr Kiley of attempting to halt, without board approval, the negotiations with private companies bidding to take part in the so-called public-private partnership for the Underground.

Mr Kiley has been a persistent opponent of the scheme. Three weeks ago, he wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair saying he was unable to achieve the changes he believed were necessary to make the scheme work.

What happens now?

Mr Kiley remains the Mayor of London's Commissioner for Transport.

In that capacity, he is taking the government to court to try and block the public-private partnership scheme.

The case, which begins next Monday, would have effectively involved Mr Kiley suing himself.

Now that he has been dismissed from the chairmanship of London Regional Transport with immediate effect, that is no longer the case.

Despite this, Tuesday's sacking is not the end of the road for Mr Kiley nor for his and Mr Livingstone's opposition to government plans.

Was the sacking a surprise?

Not really. Mr Kiley has been a long-time opponent of the government's plans for the tube.

He and mayor Ken Livingstone want to raise funds for the tube in a bond issue while keeping ownership and management of the network wholly in public hands.

They have argued that breaking up the management structure will jeopardise safety.

The government wants three separate private consortia to take over responsibility for stations, tunnels and track while trains would continue to be run by a publicly owned London Underground.

Sources in the mayor's office have said Mr Kiley's appointment to the London Regional Transport positions was just a tactical move designed to close down the argument over funding for the tube until after the general election.

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See also:

17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
London transport guru sacked
06 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube boss gives new safety warning
03 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube talks at an 'end' - Kiley
26 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Alternative Tube plans unveiled
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