NYCTA President Andy Byford’s Perspective

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What is the underlying problem in this case from NYCTA President Andy Byford’s perspective?

Andy Byford, who is the head of the New York City Authority (NYCTA), understands that the subway is crumbling because of mismanagement and poor decision-making. His perspective of the challenges facing the transits system can be deduced from his recommendations. Ostensibly, political forces have previously interfered with important processes meant to rehabilitate the subway transportation system. For instance, state leaders compelled the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the agency that oversees New York’s Subway System operations, to channel funds that could have been used for infrastructural development to state-rub ski resorts (Kinicki & Williams, 2019). It is important to note that Byford has successfully actualized a modernization plan for the Toronto transit system, which renders him an experienced leader capable of understanding NYCTA’s problems. Byford acknowledges the need to avoid political influence when making critical decisions. He is aware that state leaders, particularly those holding political positions, have consistently meddled with critical decisions making it difficult to initiate improvement programs for the subway system.

Other than the political influence, the NYCTA has been unable to make and implement effective decisions due to the disregard for important data and facts. Leaders have not been relying on available data to support decisions and actions. For instance, skeptics of a previously proposed congestion pricing strategy refuted the idea with the argument that it would over-burden low-income and middle-class commuters using. The critics could not support their argument substantively, although their conflicting views led to indecision. The system improvement effort stalled in effect because teams could not establish an ideal solution (Kinicki & Williams, 2019). In essence, the challenges facing the subway system are largely anchored on poor approaches to the decision-making process. Opponents of improvement initiatives merely challenge new ideas without recommending workable solutions. As a result, the management resorts to cosmetic improvements with an insignificant impact on the overall quality of services offered.

What were barriers to decision-making prevalent before Byford’s arrival?

Political interference and the lack of firm leadership for NYCTA were the main barriers to decision-making before Byford’s arrival. Essentially, the challenges that plunged the transit system were partially attributed to poor decision-making by state-level government officials and MTA leaders. Government officials at the state level would interfere to influence critical decisions for political reasons. For example, the MTA decision to renovate the subway system in 2008 turned out unsuccessful due to interference from political quotas in the state. The Assembly speaker intercepted the project with demands that the renovations be done solely in his home district (Kinicki & Williams, 2019). Nevertheless, the money was misappropriated and used on cosmetic improvements instead of important system components, such as tracks and signals, which are vital for seamless operations.

Skirmishes within the management equally contributed to barriers to the decision-making process before Byford. Authorities within the MTA were biased and even refused to make important decisions, possibly because they felt frustrated due to political influence. They could seldom agree on the most effective and beneficial decisions and actions, possibly because of the external political influence. For instance, the management could not agree on the best approach to the seven rehabilitation strategies, which had been proposed by an independent Transportation Reinvention Commission (TRC) back in 2014 (Kinicki & Williams, 2019). The agency continued to invest in cosmetically remodeled renovations of the subway stations despite the TRC’s capacity expansion proposal. Besides, leaders did not consider statistical facts when proposing and challenging ideas. As such, differences within the MTA management were a major limitation to the decision-making process.

Which non-rational decision-making model does Byford employ? How?

Leaders are usually at liberty to make decisions and choices on management approaches based on prevailing circumstances. A leader may opt for rational or non-rational decision-making depending on what they intend to accomplish within a given timeframe. Essentially, non-rational models are applied in situations where one might need to break a decision into incremental elements for easy management. A leader can also use the satisficing approach in scenarios where time is limited, and one seeks to achieve results with limited resources. A decision therefore may be made based on whether it is “good enough,” even when there are alternative variants because of factors such as time, as it happened in the case of Byford.

The subway transit system has been underperforming for up to two decades already, a situation that can be difficult to reverse in a course of a few days. Nevertheless, the system’s problems are deeply rooted in the agency’s management and the state-level administration offices. Therefore, Byford must involve parties from these two groups to get past the indecisiveness that led to his predecessors’ frustrations. Modernizing the subway may take up to 40 years, which is certainly too long for a system that people use to commute (Kinicki & Williams, 2019). Thus, Byford has to use the satisficing decision-making model, as this helps to alleviate pressure, achieve objectives within the shortest time, and utilize limited resources. As the leader, Byford seeks to speed up the subway system’s modernization process, although at no extra cost.


Kinicki, A., & Williams, B. (2019). Individual & Group Decision Making. In Management: A Practical Approach (9th ed.) (pp. 277-278). McGraw Hill.

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BusinessEssay. "NYCTA President Andy Byford’s Perspective." January 9, 2023.