Regional Plan Association observes with great sadness the passing of Robert Kiley.
Bob was a renowned figure in the transportation world, admired for his work running mass transit systems in New York, Boston and London. He succeeded Dick Ravitch as head of the MTA in 1983 and continued the revitalization of the country’s biggest urban and regional commuter rail network.
At RPA, we recall Bob for his pivotal role as an RPA board member in the late 1990s, member of the executive committee, and chair of the committee on the third regional plan, A Region at Risk. Bob’s strong imprint can be felt throughout the plan, including its recommendations to build the Second Avenue subway and the LIRR’s East Side Access link to Grand Central. But perhaps nowhere was his influence more powerful than in RPA’s calls to implement a congestion charge for motorists entering Manhattan south of 60th Street to manage traffic and provide funds for mass transit. It was an ambitious and prescient proposal. And when Bob was recruited to run London’s new transportation agency in 2001, he implemented a similar system, showing the world how it could be done.
In 2006, in the wake of terrorist attacks on London’s Underground, RPA invited Bob to return to New York to deliver a keynote address at the RPA Assembly. In his speech, he warned about transit systems’ vulnerability to terrorism, but also how a city and region could recover from attacks and come back stronger and more resilient. Bob’s career demonstrated how much could be achieved if leaders will look honestly at things as they are, but also have a vision for how they should be.
The board and staff of RPA are grateful to Bob for his leadership and vision, and for making the city and region a better place.