The MTA has racked up a hefty bill in its ongoing quest to rescue the subway from a state of emergency.
The agency’s payroll grew by a whopping $418 million in 2018, according to a report published Tuesday by the watchdog group Empire Center for Public Policy. Their findings are compiled into a searchable database, which shows exactly how much each of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 80,000 employees raked in last year.
The bulk of the extra costs can be attributed to an increase in overtime, which was up $119 million, or 16%, from 2017, according to the report. Working for the agency in a leadership position also pays quite well — 256 employees earned more than $250,000 in 2018, up from 150 the year prior.
Increased take-home pay is directly tied to improving subway service — the MTA spent $145 million on overtime related to the taxpayer-funded Subway Action Plan, according to MTA press representatives.
“Last year the MTA began making record levels of investments to repair, maintain and modernize the entire system, much of it at night to avoid service disruptions,” said agency spokesman Max Young. “Fortunately it is working, with subway on-time performance at five-year highs and gains across the system as well.”
The agency has also launched a series of cost-cutting measures mandated by the new state budget that passed at the start of April. The MTA has brought in consulting firm AlixPartners, which oversaw the restructuring of General Motors during the 2009 financial crisis.
Records obtained by the Daily News show MTA Chairman Pat Foye sent a memo to roughly 100 senior staff members noting that belt-tightening was on the horizon and directed them to cooperate with AlixPartners.
Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said the cuts to corporate and administrative costs are not enough. She thinks transit workers are taking taxpayers for a ride with overtime payments, and believes it should be addressed in the MTA’s next labor contract with Transport Workers Union Local 100.
“I think riders should be aware that in the extra five dollars for monthly passes and the bonus going away for the single ride is not really going to lead to better service,” said Gelinas. “It’s basically going to lead to higher overtime costs for the MTA as it is scrambling to overcome years of mismanagement.”
Local 100 officials took issue with Gelinas’ characterization of overtime payouts, especially as the MTA is preparing to implement NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s ambitious $40 billion “Fast Forward” plan to overhaul public transit across the five boroughs.
The current labor contract expires May 15, and negotiations are currently underway on a new one.
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