The Metropolitan Transportation Authority claims to be strapped for cash and plans to pass its money problems onto consumers by raising subway and bus fares in March. It also hopes to increase the toll on the Verrazano Bridge from $13 to $15.
So how could an agency with a 2012 operating budget of $9.1 billion be hurting so badly for cash? Well, not turning off their cars could have something to do with it.
According to a report by the MTA’s inspector general, released yesterday, the agency blew about $800,000 a year on idling vehicles wasting gas — and polluting the air.
The report, which you can see here, found that MTA field vehicles idled for a combined 20,000 hours each month while Long Island Railroad and Metro-North workers were in the field.
“Certainly, we are encouraged that the LIRR and MNR have accepted all of our recommendations and intensified and expanded their efforts to reduce excessive vehicle idling,” Inspector General Barry L. Kluger said in a statement to CBS New York. “Unquestionably, these efforts will result in financial savings and a cleaner environment.”
(Note: last time we asked the MTA for a statement of our own, we were called an “idiot” by a spokesman for the agency for questioning whether removing trashcans from subway stops was the best way to go about decreasing subway litter).
The MTA is pretty notorious for pissing away taxpayer money. Its inflated salaries for thousands of employees aside, the agency pays at least one team of people to do a job that already can be done by computers, as we pointed out last month.
In August, two New York City Transit subway maintenance supervisors — and eight NYCT subway signal maintainers — were indicted for falsifying MTA records to reflect safety inspections of subway signals that were never actually inspected.
That said, the MTA — and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office — assures the Voice that at no point was the public’s safety at risk because the the agency has a “fool-proof plan” to ensure that the signal system is safe, regardless of whether it’s ever inspected. The only thing the team of inspectors does is prevent possible delays — and according to the indictment, the team wasn’t even doing that.
Given these two anecdotes, it’s easy to see why the rest of us will be paying higher fares to move around New York City come March.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 20, 2012