MTA plan looks to streamline service, consolidate agencies

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The Port Washington branch fared well relative to other LIRR branches so far, with 87.7 percent of its January trains being reported as
The station for the Port Washington branch of the LIRR (Photo from the MTA)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released a plan last Wednesday suggesting that streamlining services could cut up to 2,700 jobs and save up to $530 million annually as the agency seeks to rein in deficits and modernize its infrastructure.

AlixPartners, a management consultant firm hired by the MTA, developed the “MTA Transformation Plan” for $3.75 million, in hopes of helping the agency improve service, end project delays and overruns, and modernize the system, which includes the Long Island Rail Road.

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said this is the first step to creating a modern and more efficient MTA that completes projects on budget and on time.

“Make no mistake about it,” Foye said, “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.”

The report calls for the consolidation of more than 40 groups within the MTA into six departments, with agencies focusing on service delivery, safety, day-to-day operations and maintenance. Other services would be merged and coordinated centrally.

It also recommends creating groups for capital programs, engineering, customer communications, support functions and human resources to reduce redundancies across the system.

The recommendations could lead to a reduction of 1,900 to 2,700 positions from the 74,000-strong workforce, the report suggests, and cost savings ranging from $370 million to $530 million per year.

LIRR President Phillip Eng said Long Island Rail Road workers are “at the heart” of their operation, but that they also owe it to customers to be fiscally responsible.

“As they continue this work to ensure reliable service, increased communication, and a robust capital program that’s expanding and modernizing the railroad, we owe it to the public we serve to use funding both appropriately and in the most cost-effective manner,” Eng said.

In June 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the city subway system was in a “state of emergency” and ordered the agency to create a plan to turn it around. The plan’s release follows the forging of the Subway Action Plan, which provided $836 million in funding to modernize the system.

The New York Legislature also passed legislation requiring the MTAto  create a personnel and reorganization plan and implement systemic reforms and approve it by the end of this month.

The full plan, which can be found online at https://new.mta.info/transformation, will come before the MTA board on Wednesday for discussion and possible approval.

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