Overtime Surge Fuels $400M Payroll Hike at MTA

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Overtime payments jumped nearly 16 percent last year at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), fueling agency-wide average pay hikes of 6 percent, according to newly posted payroll records at SeeThroughNY.net. The increase in MTA payroll costs for 2018 alone was $418 million—$82 million more than the authority expects to raise annually from its latest round of fare, ticket and toll hikes.

The latest searchable database at SeeThroughNY—including names, titles and salaries for 80,057 individuals who worked for the MTA during calendar year 2018— reflects the following payroll trends at the MTA’s operating subsidiaries:

New York City Transit – Overtime was up 16 percent, or $119 million last year. The average total pay for all transit workers employed in 2018 rose to $84,265 from $79,916 in 2017. The latest increase in NYC Transit overtime was in line with a five-year trend that has seen the transit agency’s overtime increase by a total of 87 percent, or $404 million.

Including overtime and other extra pay, such as shift differentials, two transit employees earned more than the $325,600 annual salary of the agency’s president, Andy Byford. Michael Gunderson and Anthony Jones, both maintenance supervisors, were paid $379,454 and $350,454, respectively. In salaried management ranks, aside from Byford, the highest-paid employees were Darryl Irick, senior vice president of buses, at $288,444; and John O’Grady, senior vice president of capital program, at $245,625.

Long Island Railroad – LIRR overtime spending increased by nearly 30 percent, totaling $224.6 million in 2018, up $50 million from the previous year’s $175.4 million. Employees collected an average of 50 percent more in overtime in 2018, or $34,000, than 2017, when overtime averaged $22,701. LIRR payroll spending last year grew by more than 10 percent, or $84 million.

LIRR has increased payroll spending by 45 percent or $280 million since 2008, while the number of employees increased by 9.6 percent. LIRR employees were paid an average of $112,404 last year, compared to $84,484 in 2008.

Fifty-eight of the 100 highest-paid MTA employees, including the top four, worked for LIRR. Including overtime and other extra pay, such as shift differentials, the three highest paid hourly employees for Long Island Railroad were Thomas Caputo, a chief measurement operator, at $461,646; Dallas Bazemore III, a surfacing foreman, at $395,397; and Joseph Ruzzo, track foreman, at $380,407. In salaried management positions, the three highest paid employees were Patrick Nowakowski, former agency president, at $454,288; Phillip Eng, current agency president, at $294,243; and Afshin Hezarkhani, chief engineer of special projects, at $260,380.

Metro North – Total overtime spending by Metro North has increased by over $40 million since 2013, reaching a new high of $125 million in 2018. Seventy-seven Metro-North employees collected more than $100,000 in overtime each, and one-hundred twenty-five employees collected enough overtime to more than double their pay last year. Metro-North’s 7,208 employees were paid an average of $95,778 last year, compared to $93,628 in 2017.

The three highest paid hourly employees for Metro North Railroad were Richard Bourt Jr., a track supervisor at $311,706; Harry Dobson, a structures supervisor at $301,626; and Eduardo Vargas, a machinist, at $296,367. In salaried management ranks at Metro North, the three highest paid employees were Catherine Rinaldi, agency president, at $297,253; Albert Santini, chief engineer, at $263,250; and Walter Burger III, stations and facilities department director, at $250,075.

MTA Bus Company – MTA Bus payroll increased by more than 12 percent from $345,064,460 to $388,063,841 and overtime increased by 11 percent from $66,173,572 to $73,466,656 from 2017 to 2018. This accompanies an increase in employment of 11 percent during the same time period. Since 2008, MTA Bus payroll has increased over 82 percent from $212,899,094 to $388,063,841, while employment has only increased by just under 39 percent. 

The three highest paid hourly employees for MTA Bus Company were three maintainers, Andres Garabito at $242,694; Gerard Ronan at $232,102; and Robin Rai at $204,931. In salaried managerial positions for MTA Bus Company, the three highest paid employees were Craig Cipriano, executive vice president of business strategy and operation support at $212,617; Michael Ribosh, vice president and chief of regional bus operations, at $204,013; and Vito Sicolo, vice president and chief of regional bus operations, at $196,917.

Other notable salaries are MTA Headquarters’ highest paid employee Veronique Kroll, agency president at $366,401, and MTA Police’s highest paid employee, Lieutenant Francis Zaino, at $329,398. The list of the 100 highest-paid MTA employees can be downloaded here.

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.