1. Former MTA Boss says system in 'Terrible Condition': Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder has spoken out about his former employer in an interview with the Standard, a popular newspaper in Hong Kong.
The assets were not renewed and the infrastructures were in terrible condition, said Walder. While the MTA is currently strapped for cash, even after Walder led it through massive layoffs, Hong Kong's transportation agency remains profitable.
Walder left the New York's MTA to head Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway Corp. late in 2001. The MTR is listed in the Hong Kong Exchange and included in the Hang Seng Index with a current market value of $146.34 billion.
2. Cash-strapped MTA Pays Employees for Playing Chess: Dozens of MTA bus drivers were paid full paychecks during Christmas week despite the fact that employees lounged around, played chess and watched TV. The New York Post first broke the story.
We are there for eight hours with nothing to do, said one driver to a Post reporter. We're watching TV, basically just hanging around.
The MTA reduced bus service over the holidays because of low demand. Though few busses ran, union work rules required that bus drivers be given five full shifts per week. So, drivers that had no buses to drive hung out and collected money. The inefficient pay model is pushing MTA managers to lobby for work-rule changes as they negotiate new contracts this month with the Transport Workers Union Local 100.
3. MTA Maintainers Work Overtime, Accrue $300 million: Employees of the MTA that ensure private contractors do their work properly and safely, also referred to as subway structure maintainers, are boosting their income to well over $100,000 annually. That's because they're working 10-hour days and often on weekends, according to New York Daily News. The report says that maintainers are typically ironworkers, painters, masons and carpenters. The workers with the most union seniority get first dibs at the job.
The base salary for the 23 maintainers averaged $67,000. They made between $112,000 and $122,000 with the overtime they received. The NYC Transit divisions spends more than $300 million a year in overtime according to the Daily News report.
4. NYU, MTA Near Deal For Tech Campus: The MTA, who has a long-term lease on 370 Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn, may sell the prime real estate to New York University for more-than-fair price. NYU is asking the city $20 million in order to buy out the MTA hot spot, but negotiations are ongoing.
Under the agreement, NYU would build the Center for Urban Science and Progress at 370 Jay Street. The site is currently a large, empty building. The program that would run at the location would focus on how cities can improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution, inform citizens and enhance security.
5. The MTA Pushes Four Big Projects Forward: Despite all of the transportation agency's troubles, the MTA will continue with four major projects in 2012. The 7 subway line extension, the Fulton Street Transit Center, the Second Avenue subway and the East Side LIRR access are all on track for completion on the originally scheduled dates according to Globe Street. The same report cites that the MTA raised its debt ceiling by $6.9 billion to pay for these capital projects, while retiring $6.2 billion of existing debt for 2010-2014.