Home MTA Economics Of pigeons, uniforms and money

Of pigeons, uniforms and money

by Benjamin Kabak

I hope this pigeon paid its $2-fare to board this train. (Photo by flickr user mortimer777)

It’s all about the money these days with the MTA. In light of what many perceive to be an unfair fare hike, critics and newspapers alike are concentrating more and more on the little things that impact the MTA economically.

Today, we have two stories that everyone will use to slam the MTA. Let’s start with pigeon poop. New York City Transit recently lost a lawsuit filed by a man who tripped and fell in a pile of pigeon droppings. He emerged seriously injured and, nearly 10 years after the original 1998 accident, won over $6 million from New York City Transit.

In the case, Shelton Stewart, the injured party, claimed that NYCT employees knew about the dangerous pile of droppings but did nothing to clean it up. This negligence has cost NYCT as much as $6 million, but the agency plans to appeal. Simcha Felder’s plan to eliminate pigeons looks all the more appealing.

Right now, other than following through with an appeal, there’s not much the MTA can do. On more than one occasion, local politicians have criticized the Authority for not keeping their stations pigeon-free, and now the problem has come home to roost. Live and learn is the lesson here. Maybe now, outdoor stations will get the cleaning attention they deserver.

The second story gives a little more to the critics. The MTA is spending $2.5 million on new uniform for station agents. Pete Donohue from The Daily News reports:

Over the past several months, 3,500 workers in the subway stations department have been trading in their traditional work outfits – blue shirts, blue pants – for a more formal look: white shirts and gray trousers, or skirts for the ladies working behind the glass.

The men get gray and black ties; female workers ascots. The new wardrobe also includes a burgundy vest, burgundy sweater and burgundy coat.

NYC Transit spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said the per-worker cost was approximately $738, and the total cost $2,583,245.

The workers are less-than-impressed with the new digs because the white shirts get dirty in the subways. But the Daily News seems more concerned with the cost outlays for the new uniforms. In reality, that $2.5 million isn’t much in the grand scheme of the MTA, and despite the big debate on Subchat, as a few commenters noted, the cost per person isn’t that unreasonable for a week’s worth of work clothing.

As it will be for some time, it’s all about the MTA’s money. Who knows how long this microscopic look at the MTA’s finances will last, but it sure gets tiresome early.

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Peter December 26, 2007 - 2:15 pm

Was it the Times a while back – aouple of years or so – ran the story about the pigeons out in Far Rockaway that hop on the trains, peck around for scraps on the floor, ride a station or two, and get off, or ride back?

I’ve long felt that pigeons, who wont fly unless they have to, are evolution in action. Given enough time and litter on the street, they will eventually evolve into big dirty grey Urban Penguins. Flightless out of a combination of opportunity and laziness – and frequent convenient service on the IND.

twakum December 27, 2007 - 11:31 am

For fun, walk through a big station with a Loss Control guy from the safety dept of a big co, or an insurance company, there are hazards for public liability that are not addressed everywhere! Years ago I actually saw the liability submission for the MTA, not a pretty site!

Plus the MTA foolishly contests many suits, which they should just settle, their law dept is a real den of those that you know, should go first in the revolution…

queecraig December 27, 2007 - 9:50 pm

anyone looking for a good place to replicate stewart’s fall is directed to the 111th st station on the 7, east side.

Cost of New Token Clerk Uniform Rediculous : SUBWAYblogger.com: Blog from the New York City Subway | Transit | MTA | News December 27, 2007 - 11:22 pm

[…] So how is it possible that it could cost that much to outfit a crew?  I understand the need for the uniforms, but how could it cost so much?  It has already been slipped into the budget, and is being spent.  It is too late to do anything about it, but it is causing quite the stir. […]

In Jackson Heights, a problem with pigeon droppings :: Second Ave. Sagas December 9, 2011 - 4:13 pm

[…] of Second Ave. Sagas, I had the chance to write two stories about pigeons. In one, Transit had just lost a $6 million lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who had injured himself by slipping in pigeon droppings. In another, the […]


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