E.J. and I had a podcast chat this morning to run through some of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s 2009 payroll data, released last week by the Empire Center’s seethroughny.net .
The data show that last year, the MTA’s 74,708 workers earned nearly $5.92 billion in cash pay (not including health-care costs or money set aside for future pensions). Payroll was up by nearly $75 million, even as the number of workers fell by nearly one percent.
As E.J. and I note in the discussion, the data help cut through some of the noise surrounding the two MTA topics du jour: token-booth cuts and student MetroCards.
The first issue: For the past week or so, MTA honcho Jay Walder has warned that a court order forcing him to hold public hearings before cutting 400 token-booth clerks is costing his agency $40,000 per day.
But higher wage costs between 2008 and 2009 cost more than $205,000 daily.
If Walder could have held the average booth-clerk wage to the 2008 level of $54,000, instead of watching it rise to $55,884, those savings alone cost have saved 30 booth jobs at the 2008 rate.
The second issue: Today’s papers report that 2,400 high-school students will walk out of school this afternoon to protest Walder’s plans to start charging students half-fare MetroCards this fall (currently, the kids ride free).
The measure is supposed to generate $46.5 million (and double that when Walder phases out free fares altogether). The $46.5 million in initial savings from ending the free fares are only $127,000 a day.
To recap, then: keeping wage costs at 2008 levels would have solved two of the MTA’s biggest problems — token booth closures and phasing in student fares — with nearly $38,000 a day left over.