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.