EWN report leads to MTA investigation

December 1, 2009 8:01:25 PM PST
The MTA Inspector General says soon after seeing our investigation, he launched his own.

"I have already spoken with top transit management," inspector general Barry Kluger said. "They've pledged cooperation in this review. We will be looking at the documents. We will be looking at documents and conducting interviews."

The Eyewitness News investigation showed how some track crews spend most of their day waiting around for the rush hour to end and to get orders to begin work. On average, the crews we observed worked around two hours despite getting paid for eight. It appears that so much idle time leads to abuse. We found workers lifting weights and having a leisurely breakfast, one man spending hours managing his bar and a maintenance crew driving for miles to catch some rays at the beach. The inspector general isn't the only one who found our report troubling.

"This issue has also reached the governor," Kluger said. "Immediately after your report, I was contacted by the governor's office, who expressed concern and asked not only to do an investigation, but continue a comprehensive review."

We obtained a memo from inside sources that suggests the waste may be widespread. In a memo last month to all supervisors and managers, the transit president stated, "It has come to my attention that workers are working less than the minimum number of hours for which they are being paid." He then warned of disciplinary charges, including dismissal and possible criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News in its editorial Monday says our investigation shows that "TA management has allowed goofing off to become the order of the workday among the people who get paid to walk the tracks."

"The MTA needs to explain what happened and demonstrate that it's an isolated incident," New York City Councilman and transportation chair John Liu said. "I suspect they'll be hard pressed to do so."

The MTA said in a statement that the Eyewitness News investigation is not indicative of the hard work put forth by staff and crew who ensure safe and efficient operations for seven million riders daily. ----