Update on MTA on the job?

February 4, 2009 6:12:18 PM PST
The head of the MTA had a long list of suggestions for closing its billion dollar budget gap. None included eliminating the kind of waste and abuse highlighted in our investigation.

"What can you say to the ridership (splice) that you are going to do what you can to root out this kind of waste before you raise fares and cut service?" I asked CEO Elliot Sander.

"There is no question we have to go after those individuals who steal time," he responded..

Our undercover cameras showed how some track and maintenance workers spend hours doing nothing as they wait to get orders to begin work; rush hour train traffic and mismanagement making two-hours of work the average among those we monitored. The idle time can lead to abuse. One worker spent hours reading in the park, going to restaurants. Another track worker would ride the bus to his home in early afternoon spend several hours there until heading back to the station house to sign out at days end. We tracked others riding to the beach for some sun and one worker tending to his bar instead of the tracks. We pressed MTA officials about how widespread this waste is.

"I can absolutely guarantee you that that kind of abuse is not tolerated. I do not think it's widespread," NYC Transit president Howard Roberts said.

How to account then for a memo that the head of transit sent to all managers and supervisors in which he states "it's come to his attention that workers are working less than the minimum number of hours for which they are being paid." He threatens strict disciplinary action.

I asked him, "What was that memo if not concern that these abuses are widespread?"

"The memo was sent out based on a single case of management not properly reporting time and stealing time," he said.

But his memo clearly states "employees (plural) are submitting inaccurate timekeeping."

Manhattan's boro president says our investigation clearly shows the waste runs wide and deep.

"What you are showing is that the MTA must look inward first to see if they are being prudent with every tax dollar we give them," Scott Stringer said.