Home MTA A $10 million communications consolidation plan

A $10 million communications consolidation plan

by Benjamin Kabak

As part of its never-ending mission to both close a $400 million deficit and make every dollar count, the MTA has announced a new initiative that will restructure the agency’s internal communications departments and save $10 million annually. Although the savings all small, the restructuring will lead to better organizational efficiencies across its various subagencies.

“By operating the MTA as one company instead of a loose collection of agencies we can provide the most efficient and effective service to the 8.5 million New Yorkers who rely on our transportation system every day,” Jay Walder, chair and CEO, said. “Consolidating these functions is a part of our effort to overhaul how the MTA does business to make sure that we are using every dollar as wisely as possible. These actions will pool resources, streamline operations and create savings.”

The first phase of this reorganization is very much inside baseball, and it will see the MTA overhaul its call centers, media relations and communications departments. The MTA made headlines when the New York tabloids revealed that the authority had more than 100 phone numbers and five customer service call centers. A “virtual consolidation” with a voice-recognition system will reduce the number of phone numbers and allow the authority to cut back on call centers.

On the media relations front, each sub-agency has its own fully-staffed press office. The authority will now maintain a “single, centralized press office” and cut back on the staffing levels. The same holds true for the communications departments. Diana Jones Ritter, a government executive for 26 years, will oversee this restructuring.

This is certainly a praise-worthy move by the MTA, but it’s also one that shouldn’t have been borne out of a financial crisis. The various agencies — Transit, Metro-North, LIRR — had independent press offices and communications departments because they were folded into the MTA over time. Never had any head tried as Walder has to reorganize internally, and it’s a move that any independent business consultant would recommend.

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9 comments

Alon Levy July 2, 2010 - 12:25 pm

If the MTA finds a way to produce annual savings of $10 million once every week, it will close the current budget gap in a little under a year, and be profitable in about 15 years.

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Jehiah July 2, 2010 - 12:47 pm

That’s a big “if”. They don’t find $10M savings every week, and there is no reason to believe that it would even be possible to find $10M of savings every week. There also are not 40 weeks left in the year, which underscores how even this is a drop in the bucket. (it also underscores just how hard it is to comprehend large numbers).

And i don’t think the goal for the MTA is profitability, but rather sustainability. I believe these incremental savings, moving towards a lower debt load, service cuts, and fair hikes will get them to sustainability in the future on the operating side, but there needs to be a *significant* investment in operating cost by the city/state/federal government by way of additional dedicated revenue sources in order to get transit to sustainable at proper service levels.

I’ll also echo Ben in that this sort of internal organizational and mindset change is a prime example of the great work Jay Walder is doing compared to any former MTA CEO.

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Alon Levy July 2, 2010 - 2:12 pm

I know all this. I said it half sarcastically, to underscore how small the savings are compared to the frequency at which the new MTA finds them.

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Jehiah July 2, 2010 - 2:22 pm

ha. internet != good for reading sarcasm =)

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Nathanael July 2, 2010 - 3:01 pm

“I’ll also echo Ben in that this sort of internal organizational and mindset change is a prime example of the great work Jay Walder is doing compared to any former MTA CEO.”

I’ll echo that too!

If Walder can eliminate a significant amount of this sort of redundancy, and get the whole MTA working as one agency rather than a bunch of separate agencies with one set of bosses, he will create an agency which is not only more efficient and better-run, but also in a better position to stand up for itself in public relations matters.

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John July 2, 2010 - 6:30 pm

While this internal consolidation is nice to show that there are internal reductions in addition to external reductions (service cuts), I think that they should really move towards consolidating the different agencies in reality, not just through consolidating phone numbers.
What I mean by this is that combinations of certain routes would be possible if all of the agencies merged together. All of the different bus companies (LI Bus, Bee-Line Bus, NYCT Bus, and MTA Bus) could be merged together, resulting in further savings. In addition to being able to consolidate them under one president, certain routes could be combined. For example, the Q12 could be eliminated and replaced with added N20/N21 service and the Q43 could be eliminated and replaced with added N22/N22A/N26 service.

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Nathanael July 2, 2010 - 9:05 pm

This is a definite long-term hope, but you should have seen the furore when an attempt was made to merge LIRR and Metro-North.

I expect that what will happen is that consolidations will happen from the back office forward. Capital Construction was an abortive attempt to start on that. Eventually everything should be merged, but the areas where people doing the same job are represented by different unions are going to take *forever*.

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Peralta joins the MTA Deniers Club in Albany :: Second Ave. Sagas July 6, 2010 - 1:00 am

[…] is streamlining operations while eliminating overspending and duplications of services (such as media relations and communications staffs). Meanwhile, Peralta who, in December while still in the Assembly, voted for the bill that took […]

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Jeanett Vanartsdalen February 25, 2012 - 7:22 am

Nothing will change as Cam Cameron is returning to the Ravens for 2012 , doesn’t this make you happy ?

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