Report of LIRR $224.6M in overtime spending prompts potential MTA probe

| Crains New York Business

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to crack down on overtime abuse at the Long Island Rail Roadafter new data showed employees raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in OT pay each last year.

The New York Post reported Thursday that MTA Chairman Patrick Foye has ordered a “crackdown” at the authority to address overtime abuses. Data released earlier this week by the Empire Center, a fiscal watchdog, found that the MTA’s employee overtime payments climbed nearly 16% last year. The data showed one Long Island Rail Road employee, the recently retired chief measurement operator Thomas Caputo, made $344,147 in overtime plus his annual salary, bringing his total compensation to $461,646. The overtime spending came during a year in which the LIRR had its worse on-time performance percentage in nearly two decades at 90.4%.

Total overtime pay for Long Island Rail Road employees increased 30% last year, totaling $224.6 million. Throughout the MTA, increases in overtime pay helped push payroll costs up to $418 million—about $82 million more than the authority expects to raise annually through its recent round of fare, ticket and toll increases, the Empire Center noted.

The probe ordered by Foye will also investigate possible safety and discrimination concerns related to overtime payments, according to the Post report. The Post quoted an anonymous source that said the majority of overtime payments go to employees who “are largely senior and not a diverse group.”

Officials at the MTA defended the ballooning overtime and payroll costs as they grabbed headlines this week. An official noted that $145 million in overtime spending was related to the Subway Action Plan, which had an estimated cost of $836 million when it launched in the summer of 2017.

“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,” agency spokesman Max Young told the Daily News. “Fortunately it is working, with subway on-time performance at five-year highs and gains across the system as well.”

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