MTA boss Pat Foye is making good on his vow to aggressively curb runaway overtime at the Long Island Rail Road and elsewhere at the agency. Alas, the steps he announced this week won’t be enough.
On Wednesday, Foye ordered the presidents of the LIRR, MetroNorth and NYC Transit, as well as the MTA’s inspector general, to conduct “a full review of overtime procedures.” The agency will also review its attendance-verification systems.
Wise moves. Following a recent Empire Center report, The Post has spotlighted outrageous MTA overtime abuse, particularly at the LIRR, where one worker pulled in nearly a half-million bucks in 2018, thanks to 3,864 OT hours. Logging 4,157 extra hours, another boosted his pay nearly sixfold.
In all, LIRR overtime costs soared nearly 30% to $225 million last year, part of an MTA-wide spike to $1.3 billion.
And OT is clearly being used to pad pensions — adding even more to the MTA’s cost.
Notably, the rise in overtime follows on the ending a few years back of a different pension abuse: the scam whereby virtually every LIRR retiree got bigger benefits thanks to disability claims. Turning a blind eye to scandal seems part of the agency’s culture.
Foye means to end that: “Procedures,” he warns, “must be followed” — or stronger rules are needed.
Yet, as we said Wednesday, the scandal goes well beyond “procedures.” The Citizens Budget Commission reaffirms this point, insisting that labor “be part of the solution” as the MTA renegotiates its union contracts this year.
Nearly 60% of the MTA’s costs are tied to labor. If it doesn’t rein in those outlays, they could easily consume all its new revenues from tolls, fares and taxes.
Boosting worker productivity is one key: If total LIRR productivity matched that of MetroNorth, the CBC calculates, the MTA would’ve saved $86 million in 2017. And productivity on maintenance work at both commuter lines is below the national median.
So wish Foye good luck. He’s off to a fine start — but he’s got a long, long way to go.
© 2019 New York Post