Thursday, February 18, 2010

Metro Hires Another Consultant

Gunn, right, will no doubt be making this gesture a lot during his stint advising WMATA.

Update: Metro says they will be paying Gunn $20,000

The Washington Post is reporting that Metro will be "contracting" with transit "guru" David L. Gunn, once a GM here in the '90s. The compensation amount was not disclosed in the article.

According to Metro Board member Mortimer Downey, one of the new federal members of the Board, "It's like calling in a specialist: 'Give the system a physical, and tell us what you think.' "

We thought Downey would be able to do that. He's new, he's got a long transit background. Why bring in this guy?

Gunn has an impressive resume (though he was fired by ... Amtrak!) and, according to the piece, "does not use e-mail or own a cellphone or computer, has a back-to-basics management style that emphasizes setting clear goals and empowering employees, down to supervisors and foremen, to solve problems themselves"

Sounds, uh, great, but we can't help but think this move is nothing but another in a long line of Metro gimmicks. Remember those high-priced communications consultants? They really earned their keep.

Yet most importantly, how many ways does Metro need to hear that they suck? Just pick up the paper, watch the news, read the blogs and the tweets. For crying out loud, just ride the damn thing.

Is Gunn supposed to deliver, at last, that sobering slap to the face that will snap Metro out if its malaise? One would have thought June 22 would have done that.

A little less conversation, please, and a little more action.

But just in case all of the deaths, accidents, broken down trains, delays and entitled employees don't paint a vivid enough picture of what is wrong with Metro for Gunn, why don't you tell him what you think.


Anonymous said...

This is the fix we needed for our antiquated and poorly designed system...hiring Luddites!

Bravo Metro...way to find 18th Century fixes for 2010.

Anonymous said...

God help us.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Metro's main communication problems appear to be internal - between the station managers, bus drivers, etc. who are interfacing with customers and the ever-elusive Central Control and management (people who do not interface with customers). The former cannot or will not talk to the latter when problems arise. And the latter evidently think ordering the former to tell customers any old bullshit, or nothing at all, is just fine.

My old boss used to say that a consultant is someone you hire who asks to borrow your watch and then tells you what time it is.

Anonymous said...

How are we supposed to tell him what we think? Carrier pidgeon?

Unsuck DC Metro said...

Ha! Good point. We'll be gathering up all comments and sending them via smoke signal this evening.

Anonymous said...

Or you could put them on the 4:30 autogyro to Siam

Ed said...

Gunn was fired by Amtrak for clashing with the Bush administration, which hated Amtrak. I think that gives him MORE credibility, not less.

Anonymous said...

How can a fellow who does not use email or cell be able to advise and help with a communications breakdown that requires, at the least, use of modern technological communication methods? Is this a case of Metro dense leading the dense?

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with the above post. I REALLY get frustrated when the "no cell/computer/email" choice is treated as a badge of honor. Guess what? We live in an age of cell phones, computers, and email! Not using them is not some admirable personal choice when it makes life more difficult for everyone with whom you work. If you don't like modern communication, don't work in an industry that relies upon it.

Anonymous said...

Not using email in the '90s may have been seen by some as cool and rebellious, but now it's just plain dumb.

dwfma said...

if Gunn can help clean up the service, we won't need email or web alerts; the timetables will once again have meaning.

from what I remember during his Amtrak tenure, he was highly public and accessible. I am sure he will give riders plenty of chances to yell at him in person.

Frank C. By said...

He's going to empower the employees? Wait a minute, *many* of them feel VERY empowered already--to make the Metro experience as unpleasant as possible. What a lot of Metro empployees need to be taught is their place!

Anonymous said...

$20,000? So why are they raising fare again?

Anonymous said...

This is the best move the new chairman could have done> Peter this is a brilliant move you will finally get the truth. Dave does not B>>>sh. He is a true transit guru who does not drive a car, who gets out of his office and checks on what his managers tell and verify ...puts together rock solid business plans supports the front line if you hold a wheel or a wrench ,,but wants efficiency and performance from every level...and you worry he does not have a raspberry...get a life oh yea Havard MBA not a moron

Anonymous said...

When I see things like this, I shake my head a bit.

Will this guy really make a difference? At $20,000 it isn't chump change but it isn't an average salary either so what will he really be doing?

Will it ACTUALLY make a difference?

Ed said...

He's not making an "average salary" - this guy isn't being hired by Metro for a full-time gig; it's a contract. He'll be around for a short period of time and is getting paid $20k for that. It's a consulting fee, not a salary.

Anonymous said...

Let's see. At current rates I am paying $9.00 per day to ride. He's gettin' $20K... I'm about to pay more temporarily only to switch to a higher permanent fee soon thereafter. He's gettin' $20K... I cannot afford to rail and bus so I walk from the rail. He's gettin' $20K... And he doesn't know email or cell and he's gettin' 20K... I worry if I will survive the ride, literally. He's gettin' $20K... I do not call this frugal financial management.

Anonymous said...

Gunn was fired at Amtrak for truthtelling, not allowed in the Cheney/Bush camp

And only an outsider can tell unpopular truths, such as how FUBAR the Board is, given they never use the system, are solely interesting in "Where's mine?" and getting press coverage.

Shane said...

David Gunn isn't just a consultant, he's THE consultant. If anybody can get to the root of Metro's problems, it's David Gunn. He doesn't need to send E-Mails or talk on the cell phone to see what's wrong with Metro. Remember, Metro's is about running trains and busses and has nothing to do with sending E-Mails and talking on the phone.

Also keep in mind it is up to Metro to fix the problems that Gunn reports. And we know that's not going to happen.

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