Overtime pay jumped 16% in 2018 at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has sparked concerns the agency is out of control.
Across the MTA, average pay increased by 6% last year, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy. MTA payroll increases cost taxpayers $418 million in 2018, which was $82 million more than the authority expected. As a result, the authority expects to inflate ticket prices and toll fees.
Empire Center's database at SeeThroughNY reveals the salaries for 80,057 individuals who worked for the MTA last year. Data shows the following payroll trends at the MTA is explosive.
Overtime surged 16%, or $119 million last year. The average pay for all MTA employees employed in 2018 climbed to $84,265 from $79,916 in 2017. A five-year trend in MTA overtime expenses represents an 87%, or a $404 million jump.
The New York Post notes that the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) delays hit a two-decade high last year, the paper points out chief measurement operator Thomas Caputo made $461,646 in overtime in 2018, the most in the agency, after his $164,027 yearly salary.
"Looking into Caputo," spokesman Shams Tarek told The Post, there were serious discrepancies in how many hours he worked and what exactly was his overtime rate. Caputo was questioned by MTA officials, who said he declined to respond to multiple follow-up questions. In a five hour interview, Caputo could only describe his job as a chief measurement operator — claiming he was "one of only a few people" who can operate an "advanced track-geometry car," which surveys rails for cracks.
Besides Caputo, there were six other individuals who made almost $400,000 in overtime. Here is the list:
This surprising news comes after the LIRR Sunday raised fare hikes $15 on monthly tickets and $5.75 on weeklies. Some New Yorkers say the out of control overtime is a disgrace.
The Post notes even LIRR employees were offended that some of their colleagues abused overtime.
"This guy is making almost $500,000?! Wow. I don’t even know what a chief measurement operator is; all I know is I want in that," said one customer-service worker, who wouldn’t give his name. "I’m in the wrong department."
Tarek explained the increase in paychecks is due to major overhauls of the agency, and claimed it's cheaper to pay existing employee overtime than hire new ones.
Add Caputo's overtime plus his yearly salary, and it's more than 11 times the average American pay.
So rising wages and spiking overtime is a victory for MTA employees, however, it comes at the expense of taxpayers and surging ride fees that will leave the pockets of low-income passengers more empty.