Thursday, May 06, 2010


I dont know the ratio of who commutes to New York City and who works within the region, but for those who make the longer journey, your travel plans may be altered again. As we know, the MTA had announced a few years ago that they were going to cut a couple of subway lines and dozens of bus routes to the outer reaches of the burroughs. That they did.

The intent was to cut spending on personnel and decrease the cost of maintainance. Their short sighted plan backfired. The way the contracts are written, everyone from dispatchers to rail mechanics made out big time through overtime and other perks. So much for cutting costs.

Hogging a huge slice of the overtime were LIRR employees, who benefit from arcane union work rules that allow everyday engineers and grease monkeys to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars above their salaries while barely lifting a wrench. Railroad employees account for more than half of the top 100 overtime earners in 2009. And of those,
Officers and ranking members of the MTA's police force and Bridge and Tunnel officers rounded out the top overtime list.

Since Larry Delarose is running for the State Senate and portions of the 39th district depend on rail service, I asked him for his perspective. He said: "Well, the MTA is in the news again for sloppy financial management and wasteful spending....gee what a surprise. The latest boondoggle is the revelation that there are MTA employees who because of antiquated work rules and access to excessive overtime are making six figure salaries...some as high as $250,000 a year. Are any of the state senators in the mid-hudson region....where we constantly whine about being abused by the MTA and sometimes rightly so....aware of this?"

So I rummaged through some other articles on the MTA and the overtime mess and found the best example of abuse I could find. Not counting employees who retired and cashed out sick and vacation days in 2009, the person with the biggest difference between his stated salary and total compensation is Michael P. Castro, a senior accounting analyst at MTA Bus. Castro made $228,000 on a $72,100 salary; a difference of $156,252. The MTA disputes that number, saying Castro's W-2 forms only show him making $77,490.

I threw this little tidbit back to Larry to get his response: "Mike, I have called several times in the past months for the Governor to appoint a financial review board to oversee the MTA's financial operation until they get their financial house in order. As a civilian, that all I or any of us can do. It would be nice to know if any of these gentlemen are aware of the above mentioned situtation and what they intend, if anything, to do about it.
Seriously, if you think about it, the estimated cost in overtime to the MTA annually is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Why can't we plug this loophole and use some of the saving to help balance the state budget.....wouldn't that be better than closing state parks?"

As for me, I can tell you that I have found nothing from our current State Senator in the press regarding the MTA overtime costs and frankly don't expect to. This issue has been brewing for decades and well, if he's been in that office for 21 years with little influence on our commuting experience and costs thus far, I doubt he ever intends to.

Just another reason for a fresh perspective in the New York Senate.


Anonymous said...

Executives in our local towns, city and county could learn a valuable lesson from this. Cutting services, staff and product from your needed operations will always have a more negative impact for both the users and the taxpayers in the long run.
Read the fine print on the municipal contracts before you enact sweeping changes.

Anonymous said...

One thing that's missed in all this is that moat of those we elect to legislative positions have never been in executive positions before. Knowing when to act and what to look for is beyond their scope, even if they have been in that office for 20 years.