A Detailed Look At The Extended NYC Subway Line Manager Program

A couple of days ago I wrote about the MTA’s intention to extend their line manager program after a successful run on the 7 Train & L Train lines respectively. Now more specific details have come out about the extension courtesy of a press release that was e-mailed to me. Here is the release:

Following the successful introduction of the Line General Manager program on the 7 and L lines late last year, MTA New York City Transit is continuing the move toward decentralization with the implementation of the first major managerial reorganization of the Department of Subways since the creation of the agency more than 50 years ago.

The current structure of centralized leadership is being replaced by a far more localized operation aimed at cutting through the red tape and inertia that can often affect large organizations. The reorganization creates a more direct system of responsibility designed to be immediately responsive to both customers and employees.

“The prime focus of the reorganization of the Department of Subways is to move the area of responsibility closer to the employees who provide the services and to the customers – who are the end users of those services,” said NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. “Our Line General Managers will be expected to take a hands-on approach to addressing everything their customers experience from service to the cleanliness of trains and stations. Our experience with the 7 and L demonstrates that services are more efficiently delivered when they aren’t filtered through a large, unwieldy bureaucracy.”

The 7 and L lines have been part of the Line general Manager program since December 2007. At that time a Line General Manager and a Deputy were installed on both lines. Since then this approach has been a success in several areas, outperforming other lines even though operating personnel remained in their divisions. When the roll-out is complete, approximately 19,000 employees will be moved from the central divisions into the lines themselves and a budget savings of more than $7 million is expected.

Full program implementation will see 18 Line General Managers covering the system’s 26 individual subway lines. While the majority of the Line General Managers will be responsible for a single line, in some cases a manager will be assigned to cover more than one line. This will be the case along lines where ridership is relatively low or share the same track. As examples, the N and W are grouped together as are the J, M, and Z.

The 18 Line General Managers would in turn report to five Group General Managers. Decisions regarding which lines were combined to create a group were based on a number of criteria, including service corridor, service level, route and track miles, and the number of employees.

The New York City subway system is one of the largest and most complex rapid rail systems in the world. The workforce alone totals more than 28,000 individuals. Trains travel over 231 route miles and either stop or pass through 468 stations. The car fleet of 6,400 is supported by 14 car maintenance facilities, two overhaul shops, and 23 subway yards. Train movements are guided by 118 towers. The 7 line alone, which is the 7th largest NYCT line in terms of ridership, is equivalent to the fourth largest transit system in the United States. Only Washington D.C., Chicago, and Boston surpass the Flushing Line.

The current plan to reorganize the Department of Subways reflects the successful reorganization of the Department of Buses almost 25 years ago, when that department was reorganized with a borough focus.

The managers are being required to take a hands-on approach to running “their railroads.” The Line General Managers will be able to direct staff as necessary to address priority issues, responding to contacts with customers and the results of the Rider Report Cards. Their duties also include making regular visits to their line’s stations, maintenance facilities, and crew quarters; making decisions concerning the best way to deliver service; and investing time each day engaging their employees and customers.

The Line General Managers will be evaluated in a number of areas, including safety, customer service, and employee morale. They will also be responsible for line performance indicators, such as On-Time Performance and Mean Distance Between Failures. The groups will be held firmly accountable for the quality of service on their lines. The customer service rating will originate with the customers themselves through the ratings provided by the Rider Report Card.

The reorganization will be rolled out in two phases. Initially, two groups will be created: IRT West, which incorporates the 1 2 3 and 7 lines, and IRT East, comprised of the 4 5 6 and 42nd Street Shuttle S. With these two groups, there are distinct lines of responsibility for the two corridors.
Phase Two will see the creation of three additional groups: the BMT Group, which would include the B D N Q W and Franklin Shuttle S; the BMT/IND group, consisting of the A C J L M Z and Rockaway Shuttle S; and the IND group, with the E F G R V. The majority of personnel within the groups would report to one of the 18 Line General Managers. Full roll out of the program could take place by early 2009.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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