After 100 days on the job, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder wonders if MTA really needs 92 different phone numbers for customer information and six calling centers.Does an agency running a $400 million deficit really need to pay $550 million a year in overtime? Is it smart to spend 15 cents to collect and process every dollar collected in fares?
These are just few areas in need of attention that Walder identified in a report, “Making Every Dollar Count,” that he released to mark his first three months in office. Walder acknowledged that much has been done by his predecessors to tackle the bureaucratic inefficiencies that persist at MTA and to deliver better service to customers. But a streamlined,
customer-focused, and cost-effective approach to operating the nation’s largest public transportation agency remains a distant goal.
Narrowing that distance will be a little more difficult than Walder first thought.
“When I started in October, I expected this report to talk about plans for finally starting to catch up with the rest of the world, and it does,” said Walder. "But I barely had my feet on the ground when the state’s economic crisis hit the MTA hard. It’s clear that my first priority right now must be
to attack the MTA’s cost structure and ensure we are using every dollar effectively. At the same time, we must find affordable ways to improve service for customers who have been waiting far too long.”
Here are some of the things Walder has in mind:
• “In 2010, Customer Information Signs will be activated in 75
subway stations. In 2011, this same information system will be operational at all of the stations on the 1-6 subway lines.
• “By the end of 2010, we plan to test bus arrival information
systems from several vendors, to enable rollout of a system beginning in mid-2011.
• “By March 2010, next commuter train information will be available “on line”—via smart phone and web—for service to and from all LIRR and main line Metro-North stations.
• “We are moving forward with plans to test state-of-the-art
technology that allows all motorists to pay tolls without stopping at the Henry Hudson Bridge.
• “In 2010, the MTA, New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in partnership with MasterCard, will pilot new technology that will eliminate the need to swipe a farecard, will cost less to operate and eventually will provide subway, bus and commuter rail customers with other benefits, including faster bus boarding, regional interconnectivity, and the ability to select among unlimited ride and pay-per-ride options via the web and telephone.”
The full report is available, along with a video, on the MTA's new website at www.mta.info.