Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hampton Roads Transit's Biggest Weakness

Having worked in cooperation with Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) for 2 1/2 years now, I think I've deduced their biggest weakness. Late buses? Old buses? Overestimating light rail? A backwards fare structure?

No, it's that employees are wedded to the proper bureaucratic procedure. They're in perpetual CYA Mode, afraid to take any initiative outside the book. The rigidity discourages employees from thinking.

Case in point: earlier this week I was on a bus where the driver stopped for 90 seconds for a time point. The hitch is that he knew he had two passengers trying to make a transfer that his stop might cause them to miss. Which is more important: getting the passengers to their next bus or sitting at a time point for 90 seconds? Being HRT he knew the safe play was to sit there. Even as I wrote it down in my bus notebook, I knew the driver wouldn't be disciplined for his stupidity.

The company I work for has a policy for virtually everything imaginable. The procedures manual for our most involved station (which I normally work) fills an entire large notebook. Yet we have a full-color poster by our timeclock with a few core principles that can trump them. Some specific examples are given. With us, don't let a manager catch you not having used common sense. Brain before the book.

You can bet there isn't such a poster at HRT. Since I know this blog is read at HRT, I hope I just shook up the corporate culture. Then, someone is likely to hard copy this, staple it to the requisite memo, and send it to the appropriate supervisor.

1 comment:

Michael Ragsdale said...

This is very true. Even sitting for 15 seconds at a timepoint is mandatory.