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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) board last month approved a reorganization plan for its entire system, including measures aimed at improving subway service, ending cost overruns and project delays, and reducing waste and inefficiencies.
New York’s state legislature had mandated the plan to end fraud and abuse in the MTA system. In response, MTA hired consulting firm AlixPartners to help draft the plan.
AlixPartners interviewed more than 100 MTA employees representing all agencies and functions, reviewed MTA historical performance, financial and operational records, and analyzed peer data published by the Federal Transit Administration and other resources to develop its recommendations, MTA officials said in a press release.
According to the final plan document, major changes to the system — which hasn’t been reorganized in 51 years — include:
• Refocusing MTA agencies based on service delivery, safety, day-to-day operations and maintenance, rather than general support functions. The agencies will report to a chief operating officer, and all other services will be merged and coordinated centrally. Doing so will consolidate more than 40 functional groups to six departments in the new MTA organization;
• Merging all capital-related functions across MTA into a central group accountable for planning, development and delivery of the capital program;
• Creating a central engineering function that will report to a chief engineering officer to set standards, ensure quality and infrastructure sustainability. This measure will provide consistent standards and specifications and eliminate duplication;
• Creating a central customer communication function, led by communication specialists, that will regularly engage with riders;
• Centralizing operating standards and service design. Currently, each MTA agency has its own internal operations standards and service design capabilities, which will be better managed under one integrated function serving all agencies;
• Creating one human resources department focused on attracting, developing and retaining the talent necessary to improve MTA performance and service; and
• Selecting new leadership roles and capabilities, including appointing a chief operating officer, chief transformation officer and an accessibility officer.
The majority of the reorganization is expected to be completed within six to nine months, with some aspects finished over another 18 to 24 months.
Right after the board approved the plan, MTA announced it was creating a Train Speed and Safety Task Force to address unnecessary train slowdowns across the MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) systems.
The task force will review train speed limits, improperly calibrated signal timers and overall operations to ensure trains don’t run slower than safety and best practices dictate.
The task force will be chaired by former Federal Aviation Administrator Jane Garvey and will include eight members from MTA, NYCT, the Transport Workers Union Local 100, STV and a former chief safety officer of the Federal Railroad Administration.
The task force also will work with respective unions, the Save Safe Seconds Transit effort, and with positive train control efforts at LIRR and Metro-North.
Moreover, MTA launched a task force to combat homelessness in the NYCT subway system, and this month will launch a Fare Evasion and Worker Safety Task Force.