The Empire Center for New York State Policy has just released its 2010 payroll data for the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Results?

The average MTA worker made more than $72,000 in salary and/or wages, overtime, and other cash costs last year, up nearly 4 percent from 2009. This about tracks the four-percent raises that unionized employees at the city-based Transport Workers Union got. (The #s don’t include benefits; with benefits, the average is above six figures, according to data the MTA released to us last year.)

Even though the MTA cut the people on its payroll by about 2.2 percent, or 1,652 workers, the money it spent on payroll went up, by 1.4 percent, or $71 million.

This data encapsulates the MTA’s problems: it can cut workers, including front-line workers. But because New York State politics locks it into raise and benefit costs, these cuts don’t result in big net cost cuts.

MTA chief Jay Walder clocked in at #1, with $350,000. #9 was LIRR conductor Dennis Reardon, who took in $240,489, tripling his base pay.

As for specific agencies, the LIRR clocked in at $84,850 on average per worker, just behind brass and police, at $87,582 the LIRR had the highest average overall, with $96,081 (again, only pay, not benefits).

488 workers took in more than $150,000, including 11 LIRR engineers and 53 Metro-North conductors.

A few job titles point up the MTA’s sticky payroll.

Last year, the MTA dropped 136 cleaners across all agencies, or 3.4 percent. But spending in this area still rose 5.4 percent, as average pay per worker rose 9.1 percent, to $47,949.

Same thing happened with track workers. The MTA dropped 38 positions, or 1.76 percent. But spending rose 6.1 percent as average pay rose 8 percent to $64,994.

With station agents — token-booth clerks — the same trend held, just less dramatically behind the scenes, even though the public can see it more obviously. The MTA cut 121 station-agent positions, or 3.6 percent, as it continued to close booths, cutting service. But payroll dollars only fell 1.3percent, as the average booth clerk got a bump-up in pay of 2.4 percent, to $57,202.

How ’bout suburban ticket sellers and clerks at Metro-North and the LIRR?

Here, the MTA cut 19 jobs, or 9.1 percent. Payroll spending, though, fell by less than that, by 6.9 percent, as the average worker got a nearly 2.5 percent jump in salaries and wages, to $66,050.

Please check out some more data here. And if you’re bored in the heat, do your own data tables here, at SeeThroughNY . Tell us in the comments if you find anything interesting that the Empire Center folk (and me) missed!

We’ll be doing more work on this, including counting supervisors to compare the number to 2009 — a daunting task. Wait for more updates in the next couple of weeks.

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