Metro-North Railroad employees who oversaw train conditions often skipped out on their work, bilking taxpayers of an estimated $170,000 a year, according to an audit released Friday.
The state Comptroller’s Office found daily work logs from the commuter transit system’s On-Board Services Unit only existed for 211 of 300 train rides examined by auditors. Of those, workers were not on the job 14 percent of the time despite being on the clock.
Of the 211 logs that did exist, no serious performance or safety issues were identified, which raises “serious questions about the quality of oversight provided by the unit,” according to the report. While the workers were supposed to ride the trains six times per day and file a report, they averaged four.
The audit covered the period between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 20, 2011.
“The public got taken for a ride,” state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. “When workers in this unit did bother to show up for their jobs, they did shoddy work or personal tasks when they should have been ensuring that trains were? operating safely and smoothly.”
In response to the audit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority disbanded the unit and assigned the work to other existing braches, according to a response from the authority. Two of the six positions within the unit were abolished.
In addition, the report found that an unnamed MTA assistant vice president in charge of the on-board unit hired a relative to work under her, despite “receiving a lower rating than two other applicants”.
The relative was paid $84,700 — well over the $57,226 starting salary that was posted for the gig — and had their paycheck deposited into the same account as the assistant vice president, the audit found. The comptroller’s office said it may be a violation of the state’s Public Officers Law.
The MTA’s inspector general is investigating the issues raised by the audit, and will make recommendations on what actions to take.
“We take these audit findings very seriously and are working to address them,” Metro-North President Howard Permut wrote to DiNapoli’s auditors.
The Metro-North provides commuter rail service for nine counties in New York and Connecticut, including Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess.
Here’s the full report: