Audit: MTA Wasted Time and Millions of Dollars During Work Stoppages


mta-nycThink the MTA is hard at work when they’ve shut down a subway line for repairs? Think again.¬†Workers routinely start late and finish early on costly maintenance jobs that require closing large swaths of the subway — wasting straphangers’ time and millions of dollars in MTA money, according to a new audit released yesterday.

In one instance, hardhats finished their work on a shuttered subway line ten hours ahead of schedule – but the MTA never bothered to resume service, the audit from New York City Comptroller John Liu and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found.

Other times, the MTA couldn’t even tell how long workers actually spent fixing the system during service outages.

Agency officials were asked to hand over paperwork detailing hours worked for 50 jobs that forced subway shutdowns — but could only provide 29 of the requested documents.

Of those 29 jobs, a shocking 28 started late and 21 finished early.

“Sadly this confirms the nagging suspicion of riders, residents and business owners alike, that subway service is taken down more than necessary,” Liu said.

The wasted time doesn’t come cheap.

“We estimated that [from Jan. 1 2009 to July 14, 2010] transit would have avoided $10.5 million of unproductive costs by ensuring that work on diversions starts and ends on time,” the audit found.

That number is likely to grow.

The amount of weekend service work more than doubled from 2008 to 2010, jumping by 57 percent from 47 to 74, the audit found.

It’s also causing serious problems for local businesses.

From Jan to March in 2010, the number 7 line had nine consecutive weekend service disruptions – causing a 30 percent drop for some Long Island City businesses.

“It’s bad,” said Judith Martin, who works at the Hunters Point Dental Service on Vernon Boulevard.

As she’s done many times over the past several years, she spent Friday calling up customers with weekend appointments to break the news that there was no 7 train running from Times Square to Queens Plaza.

“There are a lot of cancellations,” she said ruefully.

The audit also found the MTA did a poor job telling customers about impending service changes, did little to make sure buses replacing subways were effectively managed, and went over budget by $26.6 million in four jobs.

In a letter to the auditors, NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast acknowledged some “inherent inefficiency” in diversion procedures, but insisted that many shutdowns were unavoidable in the non-stop system.

He attributed some of the productivity delays to necessary and time-consuming safety procedures, like shutting down and restoring electricity to subway lines.

“We make every effort to minimize customer inconvenience by coordinating work, performing multiple jobs in the same area so that we do not have to go back again,” the MTA said in a statement.

{NY Post/ Newscenter}


  1. New Yorkers should consider themselves lucky. The London Underground – the oldest subway system in the world – has long neglected its infrastructure.

    However, in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, billions of pounds have been thrown at completing basic works that should have been done decades ago and also on projects that – it is hoped – will improve “the traveling experience” for visitors to the Olympic Games.

    This means that *every weekend* several of the 11 lines and not a few of the 268 stations are closed to enable this much-needed and urgent work to go ahead. The impact on regular passengers is more acute than it might be in New York because fewer Brits than Americans own cars.

    Two facilities will not be available for at least several years: air-conditioned trains and the ability to use cell phones underground. Personally, I can pass on the second, but the first is no longer a luxury.