Home Asides Adding more bureacracy is never a good idea

Adding more bureacracy is never a good idea

by Benjamin Kabak

Chalk this one up in the “Bad Idea” category. The MTA wants to divide the management of the city’s 24 subway lines to 24 different people to ensure competition among the lines. These 24 managers will be responsible for every aspect of running the subway line. NYCT President Howard Roberts thinks this plan will help the subways respond to customer complains faster. I can’t imagine the need for yet another level of bureaucracy at the MTA. The plan goes into effect on Monday on the L and 7 lines, and I’ll have more on this later. [The New York Times]

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7 comments

Harlan December 6, 2007 - 11:56 am

Actually, this seems like a good idea to me. Have good objective measures of the lines and the stations, put people in charge of a manageable chunk of the system, with enough power to make real changes, then pay them based on performance. Train doors always breaking down? Get those people off the train quickly so that traffic doesn’t back up too much! Station is dark and dreary? Slam some new paint on it and install new lighting! If Richard Branson or Google were running the trains, stuff would get fixed *fast*. This seems like a step in that direction.

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Marsha December 6, 2007 - 1:37 pm

I disagree with Harlan. I think this is a bad idea. What’s the point? What competition? It’s not like I choose to take one line over the other. I live on the Upper West Side and take the 1, 2, or 3 train, depending where I am going, not which train is “better.” There is a reason the IRT, IND, and BMT were merged into one system all those years ago. Why bring back decentralization at this time when we want less bureaucracy, not more?

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Todd December 6, 2007 - 1:47 pm

I was under the impression that all lines affect each other?

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Scott December 6, 2007 - 2:27 pm

Ben – I usually agree with your assessments, but I think you may be wrong on this one. According to the discussion taking place over at subchat, several operations people are saying that this move is actually designed to eliminate several layers of middle management and put operations in the hands of people who actually do the operating. According to the discussion Roberts and Sanders have been talking directly with operations rather than supervision about how to improve service etc., and this one more step in that direction.

The thread is here : http://www.subchat.com/read.asp?Id=528608. Focus on the posts by Railman718 (a T/O from the B division, I believe).

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Kid Twist December 6, 2007 - 2:34 pm

If it’s done right, this sounds to me like an attempt to replicate the successes that the Police Department has had. The NYPD holds precinct commanders responsible for the crime situation in their territories and gives them the authority to attack problems head-on. It’s considered a huge success.

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Benjamin Kabak December 6, 2007 - 2:44 pm

Thanks for that link, Scott. To excuse myself a bit, the bureaucracy comment was really just the first thing that had come to mind before Roberts made the announcement. I’ll take a further look at this plan tonight. I think it could work if they can duplicate the success they had with breaking the bus divisions up by borough.

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » Sander, Roberts staking much on NYCT reorganization December 7, 2007 - 1:22 am

[…] we trust Lee Sander and Howard Roberts? That’s really the question behind this line manager plan New York City Transit will begin to implement on […]

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