Study: MTA payroll, overtime soars

| Press- Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Garry Douglas says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2018 overtime increases won’t impact North Country contracts.

According to a report from the Empire Center, MTA costs increased by 16 percent last year, bringing payroll totals to some $418 million.

That is $82 million more than the transit system expects to earn via the current year’s round of fare, ticket and toll hikes, the report says.

But the North Country Chamber of Commerce president said that, with new leadership appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, including MTA Chairman Patrick Foye, working to enhance all aspects of transit operation, regional contracts should be left unaffected.

“On the capital side, continued planned investment is crucial to achieving enhanced reliability and lower operating costs,” Douglas said.

“The recently enacted capital spending for the MTA is robust and includes major new revenue streams from within the city to support it.

“The capital budgeting is set and, strategically, is part of the longer term approach to controlling operating costs.”

DIRECT IMPACT HERE

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority covers 5,000 square miles throughout New York City, Long Island, southeastern New York state and Connecticut.

It recently announced the potential for a five-year investment plan that could bring nearly $80 million to transportation manufacturing firms in the North Country.

A recent report by Ernst & Young Infrastructures Advisors LLC said that, from 2020-24, that $44 billion strategy would invest in various construction and engineering services, as well as New York state-manufactured equipment.

Nearly 90 percent of those investments would remain in New York, creating 57,400 statewide jobs.

One in four of those jobs would be outside of New York City, a recent North Country Chamber of Commerce press release said.

“The (Ernst & Young) report estimates an $80 million direct impact on the North Country, with $46 million in labor income,” the release said.

LONG-TERM STRATEGY

That five-year projection was backed up by a larger, 20-year plan.

According to the Ernst & Young report, the long-term strategy would analyze inventory and condition assessments to review repair needs and track any changes in regional travel patterns, demographics and economic trends.

“This effort considers the addition, replacement and/or removal of assets through the latest capital investment strategy, while gathering key information for assets such as location, quantity, age and useful life,” that report says.

“The 20-year needs assessment proposed long-term investment strategies to address these findings.”

PAYROLL SKYROCKETED

According to the Empire Center’s overtime report, several subsidiaries of the MTA have upped their overtime totals.

The Empire Center, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit based in Albany, used Metropolitan Transportation Authority records to gather the report.

That data, including over 80,000 of MTA employees’ names, titles and salaries from 2018, is listed on SeeThroughNY.net.

In looking at those collected numbers, the MTA Bus Company increased both its overtime and employment by 11 percent in 2018.

But since 2008, the payroll has increased by more than 82 percent, while employment has increased under 39 percent, the report says.

MTA subsidiary the Long Island Railroad has increased its payroll spending by 45 percent, or $280 million, since 2008, the report says.

“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.”

The Long Island Railroad saw an increase of $50 million in overtime in 2018 alone.

DOUBLE PAY-PLUS

New York City Transit saw its own $119 million, or 16 percent, increase in overtime payments in 2018 compared to 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,” the report says.

“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.”

Another MTA subsidiary, Metro North, upped its overtime spending by $40 million since 2013, totaling $125 million in 2018, the Empire Center report says.

“Seventy-seven Metro-North employees collected more than $100,000 in overtime each, and 125 employees collected enough overtime to more than double their pay last year,” the report says.

“Metro-North’s 7,208 employees were paid an average of $95,778 last year, compared to $93,628 in 2017.”

WON’T BID D.C. JOB

According to a recent Washington Post article, the Washington Metro is seeking bids on its latest contract.

That deal, for the production of some 500 rail cars, is expected to exceed $1 billion and asks that 8 percent of the total figure go to small businesses and local subcontractors.

But after meeting with Bombardier executives this week, Douglas said, the local plant isn’t putting a bid in for that contract.

© 2019 Press-Republican