Call it The Great Train Robbery: Last year, MTA workers collected more in overtime pay than the $82 million the authority expects to raise annually from its latest round of fare, ticket and toll hikes.
New figures from the Empire Center show overtime at the MTA spiked more than $100 million in 2018, to $1.3 billion. The Long Island Rail Road proved the biggest gravy train, ladling out $224 million in OT, up nearly $50 million from the prior year’s $175 million.
Of the 100 highest-paid MTA employees, 58, including the top four, were at the LIRR.
With $344,000 in overtime pay, LIRR chief measurement operator Thomas Caputo took home a whopping $461,000. And since he’s now retired, that will vastly pad his pension — as will his slightly less-astounding OT totals, such as nearly 200 grand in 2017.
In excuse, MTA flack Maxwell Young pointed to the agency’s big load of major upgrades and claimed it’s cheaper to pay an existing worker OT than hire another person. Sorry: With Caputo on the clock an average of 15 hours seven days a week, that just does not compute. Heck, with Caputo about to retire, it’d make far more sense to hire junior operators to share the load as they got up to speed.
The MTA’s overtime costs have been spiraling upward since 2014. The subway crisis provides some excuse for the steep rise at NYC Transit, but overall this looks like a massive management fail — or, perhaps, a signal from the agency’s political overseers to let labor have its way.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has complained that a “transportation-industrial complex” leaves the MTA spending far more than it should, and too trapped in outdated thinking. There’s some truth there — but the power (and culture) of the agency’s unions also is crippling.
Any plan to fix the MTA that doesn’t include labor reform is, at best, only delaying the agency’s next crisis.
© 2019 New York Post