The Empire Center for Public Policy this week filed Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) appeals with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) after six of its seven subsidiaries failed to release public payroll records.

The appeals come after the Empire Center filed its annual requests for the information in January in order to make the data available to the public on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website. New York City Transit, Metro North Railroad and the Long Island Railroad were among the subsidiaries that failed to meet statutory obligations under FOIL, let alone produce the records, as state law requires. The seventh subsidiary, the New York City Convention Center Operating Corporation, provided payroll data in response to an earlier appeal, after missing the deadline for acknowledging the Center’s request.

This isn’t the first time the MTA has failed to respond to FOIL requests. In 2015, the Empire Center was forced to seek legal action against the MTA for failing to provide payroll information in a timely manner. The MTA settled with the Empire Center out of court and agreed to pay the Empire Center’s legal costs.

“We’d rather see the MTA use its money to fix the subway than to pay our legal fees again,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center, “but that’s where this train is headed.”

Past MTA payroll records requests have revealed items of public concern, such as last year’s 20 percent jump in overtime spending and instances of employees tripling their pay through a lax overtime system.

The Center plans to take legal action later this month if MTA agencies fail to respond in the next 10 business days, per state law. The delay comes at a time when the MTA is under scrutiny by Governor Cuomo and the legislature for wasteful spending and improper reporting.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

You may also like

Six-figure NYSLRS pensions quadruple in ten years

The number of New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) retirees eligible for six-figure pensions quadrupled over the last seven years. Read More

Average Pay Spiked at Port Authority in 2021

Average pay for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) employees increased nearly 10 percent last year, to $123,000. Read More

Over 700 MTA Employees Earned More in OT than Regular Pay in 2021, Data Show

More than 300 employees were paid at least $100,000 in overtime and at least 734 earned more in overtime than in regular pay at the MTA last year Read More

Legislative Spending Unevenly Divided Among Members

Spending by state lawmakers on office personnel and administrative costs varies widely, with some paying out nearly twice as much as others Read More

State OT, Salaries Up in 2021

Overtime pay for state employees rose to nearly $1 billion, and salaries increased by six percent during the 2021 calendar year, according to data posted today to Read More

Public School Retiree Pensions Set New Record

Average pension benefits for newly retired public educators outside New York City reached a record high last year Read More

Most Long Island Educators Paid at Least $100,000 Last Year

18% of all public-school teachers and administrators employed by school districts outside New York City were paid over $100,000 last year Read More

New Public Authority Payroll Data Now Posted at SeeThroughNY 

2020 payroll data for a total of 79,146 employees at 331 different New York State public authorities is now posted at, the Empire Center’s transparency website. Read More