IT guys and gals get a bad rap for being grouchy cave people, but everyone knows that offices basically stop functioning without them.
That goes quadruple for one of the most notoriously dysfunctional mass transit systems in the world, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Apparently, in the midst of a crisis, the MTA only had one (unreachable) IT guy capable of rebooting the broken ticket vending system.
Recently, the NYC subway system’s deterioration has become a national laughingstock, political hot potato, and maddening reality for riders. Just four days after a particularly damning New York Times investigation landed last fall, the MTA announced its hiring of mass transit-veteran Andy Byford to turn things around as president of MTA New York City Transit.
Now six months into the job, the New Yorker has published a detailed, charming, and wholly entertaining profile of Byford. In profiling its new master, the piece also shows a behind-the-scenes and at times hair-pulling account of how New York’s subway system functions.
One such revealing anecdote involves broken ticket vending machines, a frantic MTA war room, and an elusive IT guy named Miguel.
According to the piece, on a Friday evening, MTA ticket vending machines stopped accepting debit and credit cards. The MTA’s control center watched people jumping turnstiles on monitors and complaints explode on Twitter. The crisis even spread into the New Jersey transit and seemed to be ballooning before their eyes.
MTA officials were powerless to stop the chaos. As pointed out by the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein on Twitter, the one man capable of rebooting the vending system had a truly admirable work-life balance: Miguel was not answering his phone during his Friday night commute home to his town three hours north of the City, leaving the MTA bereft of IT support for this specific issue.
When the NYC subway vending machines go down, there’s apparently only one guy who knows how to fix them.
His name is Miguel, he lives in Port Jarvis (3 hrs from NYC), & apparently he likes to turn his cell phone off on the way home.
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) July 9, 2018
In the piece, Byford vows to employ “a dozen Miguels trained up by Monday.”
When asked about the incident, the MTA told Mashable that the situation was a little bit more complicated than the inability to reboot, thanks to one off-the-clock man with a password. But it did confirm that, since then, four additional employees and two consultants were trained and given the ability that previously only resided within the mind of Miguel.
Twitter is definitely on #TeamMiguel, but thinks he should get some help.
I applaud Miguel’s job-preserving skills but as someone who has to ride the MTA daily I kinda wish he’d take on an apprentice or five.
— Doctor Memory (@Dr_Memory) July 9, 2018
job security for REAL. MIGUEL, NEVER TELL!
— Randi Hernandez (@RandiMHernandez) July 9, 2018
All hail the IT wizardry of Miguel. And never, ever underestimate the IT crowd.