New MTA CEO Jay Walder has pledged to bring flashy technology to the buses and subways, but can he soup up the MTA’s clunky office equipment?
Ancient software used throughout the agency has become a major Achilles’ heel, preventing the MTA from getting basic tasks done, transit advocates say.
“It’s striking how far behind the times they are,” said Ellyn Shannon, transportation planner for the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.
According to transit sources, the problems include:
- Microsoft applications date back to 2003 or earlier, and there’s no special database for big mailings.
- Subway work assignments take at least six month to dole out because of an antiquated program. They should take less than two months.
- NYC Transit was fined $15,000 last month after a computer crash wiped out data needed for a lawsuit. The information finally turned up on a floppy disk.
- The planning department hasn’t had essential mapping software, forcing them to pay consultants to do the research.
- The Internet at headquarters periodically grinds to a halt because of inadequate bandwidth after 3 p.m., with the day of Michael Jackson died being especially bad.
“They are so unautomated,” said Shannon, who urged the MTA to hire an executive-level tech guru, as most big companies have.
Walder acknowledged that technology has been “broadly difficult” for the MTA, and formed a committee last month to overhaul the agency’s operations, including office technology.
“These are things we have to find out how to be more nimble about it,” he said.