Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Passing the Suck

Here's another in a series about how a culture of departmental infighting and passing the buck at Metro screws commuters.

Part one explains why there are so many breakdowns at rush hour.

The below is from a 15-year Metro veteran. They asked that specifics be omitted so that they could not be identified. Department names and equipment types have been made generic.
There is a whole lot of "cover your ass" at Metro and a lot of passing things off to the next shift. My immediate coworkers and I honestly try to do that as little as possible, but for some techs/mechanics it is a finely honed skill.

There is also a lot of "not my department."

Take "gadget A" for example -- there are any number of reasons for them to fail (without endangering riders but causing delays). Most of these failures involve equipment from my department. Sometimes however, it will be another department's equipment that is the cause.

We try to get that department to do the necessary repairs, but more often than not they delay and come up with excuses. We are told to inspect and/or test every single piece of our equipment (sometimes two or three times over multiple shifts) before the other department will grudgingly go out and fix what was clearly the cause of the failure all along.

Passengers are often unnecessarily delayed due to these inter-departmental squabbles.

A fairly common occurrence within my department is for one shift to allow a piece of equipment they are responsible for to gradually fail because they don't want to go through the trouble of replacing it.

There are ways to keep the equipment limping along for a while, but failure is imminent. It is only a question of time. It may be months or it may be days.

It seems to be a game to some of my coworkers, related to the 'passing it to the next shift' game.

They know that since they typically work 40 hours out of 168 in a week there is only about a 25 percent chance their equipment will fail while they are at work. The chances are much greater that someone else on another shift will end up replacing it if they just let it go until it fails.

If the equipment could be changed before it actually failed, it could be changed at a more convenient, planned time. All the necessary parts and supplies could be gathered, and the job could go much more smoothly than when there's an unexpected failure during rush hour. The disruption to passenger service would be much less.

A major contributing problem is no oversight -- no quality assurance (QA). Management personnel rarely review the data. If they did, they would see that the problem had been brewing for some time and could have been avoided.
Another source said:
All management cares about is the numbers. How many tickets open in Maximo and the delay numbers. It's never the root, always the numbers. So we get into a rut where we worry about the "ticket" and never mind patterns or causes.
Other items:
Summary of public hearings (WaPo)
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