As fare hike loom, MTA doles out more for overtime

By · Published in 2007

The New York Post discovers that, yes, some MTA employees are paid. (Source: The New York Post)

Ah, the fare hike. It’s that one time every few years when the MTA’s finances are scrutinized by everyone under the sun.

With the public hearings starting today (register here), The New York Post takes a look at what the MTA is paying its employees. Rupert Murdoch’s paper has found a rather large amount of overtime landing in the pockets of those MTA workers.

In an article detailing the escalating salaries of MTA workers, The Post has also discovered that the number of workers earning above $100,000 a year has risen as well. Bruce Golding reports:

As the MTA fights for a fare hike, the number of agency workers who took home more than $100,000 last year jumped 37 percent – as the agency paid a total of $397 million in overtime…

The number of MTA employees with base salaries exceeding $100,000 rose to 1,793 last year from 1,403 in 2005, a 28 percent jump. By comparison, the number of New York City workers with salaries over $100,000 rose only 6 percent during the same time.

Overtime payments helped push the number of employees taking home more than $100,000 to 4,382 in 2006, up from 3,209 the year before – an increase of 37 percent. At the LIRR, overtime pay boosted 656 workers past $100,000 in earnings, compared with 205 who made that much in straight salaries. At Metro-North, the numbers were 240 through overtime and 226 from salaries.

Now, I can’t fault workers for earning more than $100,000. While a lot of people on the Internet who write about the subways have a very low opinion of some subway workers and Flickr is chock full of pictures of MTA employees sleeping on the job, if their seniority and work ethic demand it, then these workers should be fairly compensated. While the article in The Post seems to be more concerned with the $100K figure than anything else, I’d like to focus on overtime.

According to this article, the MTA doled out a whopping $397 million in overtime last year. Now, that $300 million sure does sound familiar. Ah, right, it’s the amount of money the MTA needs next year to avoid the fare hike, according to MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander.

I doubt it’s reasonable to expect the MTA to cut out all of that overtime, but I would have to believe that they could half the amount of money they pay out in overtime. Something in the organization culture of the MTA has led many, many employees to work overtime and expect pay for it.

As the MTA’s finances come under the fare hike microscope for the next two months, the MTA should start to cut some of that fat. Evening saving a quarter of this overtime money — $100 million — brings the organization that much closer to avoiding a fare hike or, if the fare hike is inevitable, paying for more service upgrades. Let’s see it happen.

7 Responses to “As fare hike loom, MTA doles out more for overtime”

  1. Chris says:

    And meanwhile, NYPD officer salaries start barely above the poverty line. That really goes to show you where this city’s priorities are.

  2. J says:

    Part of the problem is that additional full time workers get benefits and cost money to train. While overtime hours are expensive, when you factor in the costs of training and benefits for an additional employee, it isn’t necessarily cheaper to hire an additional person full time to replace 40 hours of overtime.

    Of course, the union wants it to be less expensive to give overtime, since it insures bigger paydays for the existing workers. After the transit strike, the workers shouldn’t really have enough clout to maintain that as the status quo, yet they’ve managed to.

  3. Todd says:

    Ben: I could’ve told you that Micheal Woodhouse and his gang are earning lots of overtime. They’re always really busy ‘holding trains’ and what not.

    Chris: Amen.

  4. Genie says:

    Wow… I was not aware that there are that many dispatchers. I am aware that they are trying to eliminate many of those jobs.

    While I think they can eliminate some jobs and maybe in about 10 years time reduce pay, in the end the pay will still be high (60-70 range) and there will be almost no way to eliminate overtime due to the increase in schedules and ridership.

    Many employees are paid well at transit (that is those who have anything to do with the actual train and its movement) but the perfection level is also higher than most people ever experienced. Make a mistake and it could mean your job. Get someone hurt and there is a possibility of jail time.

    Then you have to think about the work environment… not exactly a 50 story office building your working in.

    Not sure what they gonna do about all of this.

  5. todd says:

    Make a mistake and it could mean your job. Get someone hurt and there is a possibility of jail time.

    Yeah, like that’s not seen in any other field of work.

    Then you have to think about the work environment

    Don’t the dispatchers don’t work in climate controlled, glass-walled offices?

  6. John says:

    Chris: I don’t feel sorry for the NYPD at all. The force attracts pepople who want to be shoot-em-up cowboys, and I say pay em what the market will bear.

    Many NYPD cops are arrogant, borderline sociopaths anyway.

  7. Chris says:

    John: So are many MTA employees.

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