Groups to MTA Board: Vote No on “Disorganization” Plan

Riders Alliance • Reinvent Albany
TransitCenter • Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

MTA Board Should Vote NO on “Disorganization” Plan

Rushed Plan Blurs Accountability, Creates Complicated New Bureaucracy

Board, Elected Officials and Public Stakeholders Given One Week to Review Historic Changes to Single Largest Part of State Government

Transit and government watchdog groups called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board to Vote NO on the AlixPartners/MTA Transformation Plan. It is our understanding that the Board will vote up-or-down on the full plan at its meeting on Wednesday, July 24th. Not all elements of the plan are objectionable, but there are enough serious concerns to warrant a no vote on the full plan. The groups raised the following concerns:

  1. Rushed process, with zero public input. The full plan was released with only four full business days remaining before the MTA Board’s vote. The MTA Board can make no changes to the plan before this vote, so any feedback received at this point is meaningless. This process has given little time for MTA riders, elected officials, business groups and other stakeholders to weigh in on historic changes to an agency that is crucial to everyday life and the city and state economy.
  2. The plan fragments expertise and separates key engineering experts from system maintainers and operators. For instance, New York City Transit’s (NYCT) engineering experts — the people who actually know about signals, trains, tracks — are taken away from the day-to-day work of keeping the system running and report to a chief engineer instead of the subway boss. The proposed chief engineer will oversee engineers with completely unlike expertise in everything from subway cars to tracks to bridges and tunnels. There is no logic to this. Oddly, the plan seems to reverse the MTA’s last huge consolidation by splitting the Business Service Center into seven new units under seven new chief executive positions.
  3. The plan creates disorganization and reduces internal and public accountability. It is bizarre and dysfunctional to have the Chief Transformation Officer and Chief Operating Officer report to the MTA Board instead of the CEO. This is akin to having a Deputy State Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner report to the Legislature instead of the State DOT Commissioner. State agencies, authorities and private corporations and non-profit organizations have reporting lines in which staff report to senior management, who then report to the CEO.
  4. The plan is not grounded in transit agency best practices. Transit agencies like Transport for London have undergone significant restructurings that could serve as a template for the MTA. But the AlixPartners report does not refer to the management practices of other large agencies in the transit sector. It draws no lessons from the reorganization of peer agencies, nor does it justify recommendations by citing successful execution elsewhere.