Friday, June 26, 2009

Transit Can't Afford This

Two stories reflect the quandry facing transit operating agencies. One talks about how this week's Washington Metro (WMATA) crash, which killed nine, highlights the financial problems agencies face in maintaining their infrastructures and how they could increase safety risks.

Yet at the same time, they need to do a better job of managing their expenses, particularly labor. E.J. McMahon, in his NY Fiscal Watch blog, reports that more than 10 percent of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's workforce of 78,393 employees took home more than $100,000 last year in total pay (base salary and overtime). The figure includes 654 whose compensation exceeded $150,000.
Eleven of the 654 employees who earned more than $150,000 in 2008 were Long Island Railroad car repairmen who earned an average of $206,000—which was $143,000 over their average base pay rate of $63,000.
Nice work if you can get it, but something is amiss when an agency that just foisted a 10 percent fare hike on its riders and forced New York State residents to pay higher taxes to support it, allows this to go on. Clearly, the Long Island Rail Road needs to do a better job of managing its payroll and both the MTA and state legislature need to do a better job of monitoring what's going on there.

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