The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s payroll jumped $663 million, or 9 percent, last year to its highest-ever level as overtime spending ticked up to a new record and subsidiaries dished out $261 million in retroactive pay, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website.

Payrolls for most MTA subsidiaries, now searchable on SeeThroughNY, grew faster than inflation year-over-year:

  • MTA Police (+$45M, 37 percent)
  • Bridges & Tunnels (+$23M, 21 percent)
  • Headquarters (+$79M, 14 percent)
  • Long Island Rail Road (+$116M, 14 percent)
  • NYC Transit Authority (+$312M, 8 percent)
  • MaBSTOA (+$40M, 6 percent)
  • Metro-North Railroad (+$37M, 5 percent)
  • MTA Bus (+$11M, 3 percent)

Overtime as measured using payroll records totaled $1.37 billion, up 6 percent ($75 million) from 2022 and up 22 percent ($246 million) from 2021.

As reported earlier by Newsday, the MTA’s 2023 overtime spending nominally exceeded the record set in 2018. Overtime in 2023 was equal to 23 percent of the MTA’s total regular pay, compared to 24 percent in 2018.

The MTA’s 2023 overtime champion was Metro-North Railroad supervisor Harry L. Dobson, who collected $254,638 in OT, bringing his total pay to $381,255. A total of 13 MTA employees collected over $200,000 in overtime: 5 at LIRR, 3 (including Dobson) at Metro-North, 3 at MTA Police, one at the Transit Authority and one at Bridges & Tunnels.

The top 50 overtime recipients are listed below:

All told, 724 MTA employees last year got over $100,000 each in overtime.

The per-worker overtime was highest on the Long Island Rail Road, where employees averaged $26,028 in OT, followed by Bridges & Tunnels ($25,839), MTA Police ($21,221) and MTA Bus ($20,525).

Overtime increased between 2022 and 2023 at four MTA subsidiaries:

  • Bridges & Tunnels (+$5M, 20 percent)
  • Long Island Rail Road (+$19M, 9 percent)
  • NYC Transit Authority (+$55M, 7 percent)
  • MTA Police (+$1M, 5 percent)

Overtime at Metro-North Railroad was basically unchanged, while Headquarters and MaBSTOA each decreased 3 percent and MTA Bus fell 1 percent.

Comparing 2023’s overtime figures at each subsidiary to the MTA’s previous record year (2018) reveals the following:

  • Headquarters (+$11M, 199 percent higher in 2023)
  • Bridges & Tunnels (+$5M, 21 percent)
  • MTA Bus (+$15M, 20 percent)
  • MTA Police (+$4M, 13 percent)
  • Metro-North Railroad (+$6M, 4 percent)
  • NYC Transit (including MaBSTOA) (-$5M, -1 percent)
  • Long Island Rail Road (-$10M, -4 percent)

Four Bridges & Tunnels officers were the MTA’s highest-paid employees of 2023, led by Lieutenant Edwin Lee, who collected $531,659 (including $185,338 in retro pay and $181,065 in overtime). A total of 94 Bridges & Tunnels sergeants and lieutenants collected over $100,000 each in retroactive pay, with one collecting $203,970, after the MTA in 2022 settled a union contract that had been expired for a decade.

The Empire Center’s 2019 payroll analysis sparked a sweeping probe of MTA overtime practices.

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.

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