NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – All subway riders have heard for months is that the MTA doesn’t have enough money to make much-needed repairs to improve service.
Which makes a new study even more shocking.
The study found MTA workers are putting in so many extra hours on the clock that the agency spent $418 million on overtime last year.
All this as the agency says it needs even more money.
“It’s a black eye for the MTA,” Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute said.
Gelinas gave the terse assessment of the MTA’s payroll and the study by the Empire Center that shows some transit workers living higher off the hog than the Transit Authority own president, Andy Byford.
Byford’s pay – to run the entire bus and subway operation – is $325,600.
One subway maintenance supervisor beat him by more than $50,000. Taking home over $379,000. Another was paid more than $350,000, and a LIRR measurement operator got nearly $462,000.
The MTA’s whopping $418 million overtime bill is reportedly $82 million more than the agency expects to rake in from the latest fare hike.
Gelinas says it’s a red flag and that Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers should think about withholding the money from congestion pricing until the MTA gets its fiscal house in order.
“There’s still plenty of time for lawmakers to go back and revisit this and say do we want to put this money away in a lockbox and not give it to the MTA until they start to show some progress on some of these cost controls,” Gelinas explained.
MTA chairman Patrick Foye claims some of the overtime was the result of repairs that were done at night and on weekends to limit rider inconvenience. Repairs that have improved service.
Nevertheless he said the MTA recently hired an outside consultant to help the agency find $500 million in savings by the end of next year.
“We’re committed reducing expenses at the MTA across the board,” Foye said. “We can and must do better.”
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer spoke to riders – who were just asked to shell out more to take mass transit – how they feel about the overtime bill.
“I think the Transit Authority is the biggest bunch of incompetents… They don’t know how to operate the trains, they don’t know how to spend their money,” Fred Cannata of Bronxville said.
“I think it’s crazy. The trains aren’t doing good, the subways need to be fixed,” commuter Kevin Muschette added.
“So much mismanagement. We don’t even know where it’s going. It’s sad, they should be accountable for what they spend,” Fred Negron of the Bronx charged.
Meanwhile Transport Workers Union president Tony Utano defended the overtime tab.
He said it’s “not a gift,” it’s time spent away from families working under sometimes hazardous conditions.
The union contract is up next month. Nicole Gelinas says the MTA should hold the line on raises. MTA Chairman Foye says he won’t negotiate in the media.