Readers Write: Fare evasion cost MTA nearly $700M in 2022

Readers Write:  Fare evasion cost MTA nearly $700M in 2022
After taking one year to complete, the MTA finally released its 120-page Blue Ribbon Panel report on fare evasion.  The findings were worse than the previously reported $500 million fare evasion in 2022.  The report revealed that the losses were greater than thought. It turns out that in 2022, the MTA lost $315 million in bus, $285 million in subway, $44 million in commuter rail and $46 million in bridge and tunnel crossings revenue for a total of $690 million. If your business lost $690 million per year to shoplifters, stockholders or in this case commuters and taxpayers, you might want to fire those in charge and hire a new management team.
Just as significant, MTA operating agencies including NYC Transit bus, subway and Staten Island Railway, MTA Bus, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads continue to fail in significantly reducing excessive employee overtime. This has grown to over $1 billion annually. Future employee pensions continue to be calculated based on the final year’s base salary inflated by overtime. Contrast this with federal employees pensions. They are calculated based on the average of last three years of employment.  There is no overtime added to the formula.  Pensions for a majority of other government and private sector employers are not inflated by overtime, but usually based upon straight salary.
Albany’s “New York Buy America Act” and Washington’s “Buy America” requirements add to project costs.  This impacts the ability of MTA to get the best bang for the buck when spending $1.8 billion in grant funding every year from the Federal Transit Administration.
Commuters and taxpayers have to wonder why each new generation of MTA management year after year never seem to be able to deal with controlling fare evasion, excessive overtime, inflated pensions and onerous procurement rules. Successful leadership could resolve these challenges and deliver over $1 billion worth of annual savings.
Larry Penner
Great Neck
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.

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