Can tough-minded transit managers make a dent in 45-year-old union workrules? Boston thinks so. Two weeks ago the new general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, James F. O'Leary, saved $2 million by laying off 68 doormen, effectively reducing the crew of four-car subway trains from three to two. Doormen were paid about $25,000 a year.
The move provoked dire predictions of increased crime. But in fact, says Mr. O'Leary, crime on the ''T'' has decreased by 20 percent in the last two weeks.
The decrease is probably coincidental. But the Carmen's Union is still grumbling about a possible strike, which could put a sharp crimp in downtown Christmas shopping.