Sunday, December 27, 2015

New NYCT President starts Monday - an open blog post.

Tomorrow, Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim will start her first day as the 8th permanent President of MTA NYC Transit.  She returns to the MTA family after serving a brief stint at NJ Transit and enter a fragmented time where the MTA and NYC Transit are in the midst of rebuilding the nations largest  urban transportation network from Superstorm Sandy as well as coping with dwindling on-time performance in the subways due to record high ridership, work programs, and equipment malfunctions.    As Ms. Hakim starts to lead the ship abandoned by the last NYCT President, Carmen Bianco earlier this year, I wish her great success in 2016.

That said, I am making an open blog post (like an open letter) to Ms. Hakim about some suggestions to improve the customer's perception of MTA NYC Transit.

1. Improve on-time performance and scheduling.  That is most obvious given that some lines such as the 2, 4, 5 and 6 lines have below 50 percent on-time performance.  Page 31 of the November MTA NYC Transit Committee Meeting document shows these lines have poor weekday on-time performance.  On weekends, only the 2, 4 and F lines have below 50 percent O/T performance.  (The best explanation why the 5 line has a much better 71 percent on-time performance is probably because the line had some Bronx only shuttle train service scheduled on certain weekends or if the line ran the entire length to Bowling Green, then some weekends were at 20 minute intervals.  Using platform controllers as well as better response times to trains involved in minor incidents might help.  Of course I am not an expert as to how NYC Transit should improve on-time performance but I do know that no more trains can be added during rush hours due to constraints in system capacity.  But with the recent rash of equipment failures like signals going on the blink almost very day or the gap fillers at the Downtown side of 14th Street-Union Square on the 4/5/6 lines are not working properly - - and these gap fillers were replaced this year - - then it's time for NYCT to stop purchasing cheap equipment which continues to break down.

2.  Improve customer information and communications:  That is one of my biggest issues - - you cannot have inaccurate information hereherehere and here,  Oh yes, did I remind you that the MTA Weekender pages still have the Bronx House of Detention and other errors after all these years?  As for train announcements, you cannot say transfer to the 7 train if that line is not running in Manhattan on any given weekend (except for a shuttle train between Times Square and 34th-Hudson Yards)  So if te MTA NYC Transit announces a weekend A/C Cranberry tube shutdown, then there is absolutely no reason why I should hear the A/C transfer on 2/3/4/5 trains at Fulton Street (I cannot vouch for the J train as I have yet to ride any during the Cranberry Tube shutdown).   Same goes for a bus line - - I should not be hearing a "Transfer to the Bx41 SBS" at Gun Hill Road at 10 PM when the last Bx 41 SBS left the intermodal terminal an hour ago.  /  

3.  Improve customer service and response:  One thing NYC Transit loves to do is to answer customer's concerns with form letters - - a letter with "we will take care of this" which they end up not doing anything at all.  Nothing ticks a customer off than getting a form letter as a reply - - they should reach out via email directly to the customer and see how this matter can be resolved that way.  Most people have email accounts so this is a cost effective way in taking care of customer's concerns.  Other people who don't have computer access can still receive letters the old fashioned method. 

4.  Reach out to customers in person:  Former NYCT President Alan Keipper ran the system from 1990 to 1996 and during his tenure, he took a hands-on approach in the system's day-to-day operations.  Mr. Keipper would hold forums at specific subway stops, usually about once or twice a month and during the weekday PM rush hour - - listening to customer's concerns and directing the appropriate issue to a senior NYCT manager,  I attended a few of these meetings, once at 168th Street  A/C station and another at 205th Street on the D for example.  Reach out and hear what customers are talking - - social media such as Facebook and Twitter have made a positive impact in improving customer service but sometimes there is nothing like the old fashioned way of face to face interaction.  

And lastly, ride the system - - see what is being done right and what is done wrong.  Whatever you see that is wrong, try to see if there is a way to fix it without being cost-prohibitive. 

No comments:

Post a Comment