MTA Plans to Cut Jobs, Take Construction Projects Away From NYC Transit Chief
They plan to cut hundreds of jobs, hire a few new high-ranking managers and take away NYC Transit President Andy Byford's control of major subway construction projects.
The broad strokes of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's state-mandated reorganization plan were detailed in a 19-page summary released Friday. The full plan will be made public later this month.
The proposals, which were put together in partnership with consulting firm AlixPartners, must be approved by the agency's board at its next meeting July 24 .
The plan backed off from a prior proposal to strip Byford of his control over bus service, but does include a measure to consolidate the MTA's three separate bus companies.
Byford and the agency's other division leaders will lose control of construction projects in order to have a "singular focus on safety, operations and maintenance," according to the summary. All of those bosses will report to a new chief operating officer.
That means Byford, a career railwayman who received accolades for his previous work as head of the Toronto Transit Commission , would not oversee the nuts and bolts of his "Fast Forward" plan to rapidly modernize New York City's transit systems.
Byford will still be tasked with maintaining the subway's crumbling infrastructure, including keeping up recent efforts to clear clogged drains, deep clean stations and fix faulty signals.
The most significant job cuts proposed in the plan are within the MTA's redundant administrative offices. Officials plan to consolidate the agency's seven human resource departments, seven legal offices and seven finance divisions.
Many engineers will also get pink slips. The plan proposes shrinking the agency's seven engineering offices into one, and adding a new "chief engineering officer" to lead it.
It is not clear exactly how many people would be fired under the plan. A high ranking MTA official said the measures would save "hundreds of millions" of dollars.
MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the reorganization is the beginning of a "new, modern MTA."
"This transformation will allow us to finally give our customers the system they deserve, and prepares us to execute on what is likely to be the biggest capital plan in MTA history," said Foye.
Some of the shakeup hinges on collective bargaining with transit unions. Transport Workers Union Local 100's 41,000 members, who work on the city's buses and subways, have been without a contract since May.
It's also unclear who will complete intensive subway drain maintenance work moving forward.
Roughly three-quarters of the work to clear 10,000 clogged drains under Gov. Cuomo's Subway Action Plan was done by outside contractors -- Local 100 officials have previously said they want that work moving forward.
The MTA will also have to negotiate with labor leaders to consolidate its three bus companies, which employ bus operators represented by four different unions.
Cuomo said the reorganization plan is "conceptually right and has been recommended by various consultants and administrations over the years."
The governor added that his office will check in on the progress of the plan in six months.
Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said it's more important than ever for Cuomo to be held accountable for the MTA.
"Now the governor and his top managers must detail how they will overhaul the core infrastructure that millions of us depend on every single day," Pearlstein said.
Some transit leaders were unimpressed with the plan. One MTA board member said the proposals were "unremarkable."
"It's exactly the type of things that I thought they would do," said the board member. "It's a common sense document."
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