Home » MTA has slashed more than 4,000 jobs since start of pandemic, data show; NYC Transit buses and subway hard hit

MTA has slashed more than 4,000 jobs since start of pandemic, data show; NYC Transit buses and subway hard hit

More than 4,000 people have dropped off the MTA’s payroll since the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City amid a retirement rush and a hiring freeze — and most of them worked on the city’s subway and bus networks, new agency data shows.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority employed 66,986 people in March, according to an agency report released this week.

That’s down 4,011 from the 70,997 who worked for the agency in March 2020 — and a drop of nearly 5,400 from the 72,383 employees the MTA reported in March 2019.

All of it amounts to a job reduction of more than 7% at the MTA over the past two years.

The bulk of the job cuts have hit NYC Transit, the MTA’s largest subsidiary, which operates the city’s subway, bus and paratransit services. Its workforce — hard hit by COVID-19 deaths and illnesses — shrank by 3,101 over the past year, from 48,530 in March 2020 to 45,429 last month, data show.

MTA officials say they’re working to fill the gaps caused by employee departures.

“Where voluntary departures were from roles necessary to maintain secure and reliable operations, replacements are being hired,” said MTA spokesman Ken Lovett.

Customers wearing masks aboard a Manhattan-bound 7 train at Queensboro Plaza on the Flushing line Thu., April 8, 2021

The MTA in 2019 began a state-mandated “reorganization” that aimed to consolidate administrative duties and cut up to 2,700 jobs — a target that was reached by last July as workers began to rush for retirement.

MTA officials in November threatened to cut another 9,000 jobs if Congress did not approve additional COVID-19 relief funding for the agency. The agency later received the funding, and agency chairman Patrick Foye said the draconian cuts were off the table.

Lovett said the transformation has saved the MTA $335 million so far. But the agency’s overall budgeted expenses have still increased by $718 million over the past year, which Lovett said was the result of increased cost of health care, debt payments, fuel and paratransit services.

The exodus came as transit workers were sickened or quarantined by COVID-19. MTA officials said at least 159 agency employees have died from the virus.

Anthony McCord, the chief transformation officer tasked with overseeing the reorganization and job cuts, said in February 2020 that 700 of the planned 2,700 job cuts would be among operational employees responsible for running subway, bus and railroad services.

But MTA data show the agency has shed 1,737 operational jobs over the last year — 1,456 of them at NYC Transit.

The number of subway maintenance workers — who are tasked with fixing train cars, tracks, elevators, signals and other crucial infrastructure — has also been hard hit by the cuts. There are 1,221 fewer workers in subway maintenance compared to last year, data show.

Tony Utano, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents a majority of the MTA’s workforce, said the maintenance cuts could mean “maintenance will again fall into disrepair.”

“Things are starting to open up,” Utano said. “We need a reliable subway, and we need enough train crews to run full service.”

President TWU Local 100 Tony Utano

The job reductions have already impacted bus service across the city, leaving straphangers waiting twice as long for their buses during certain parts of the day due to a shortage of drivers.

Even if the MTA quickly begins hiring new transit workers again, it will take months for the rookies to be trained.

Track workers must complete a safety class at an MTA training center in southern Brooklyn that’s been hamstrung by social-distancing requirements in recent months.

Subway train operators and conductors can take up to six months. And signal maintainers who manage the technology that guides subway trains must take an eight-month course before they start working.

“Even if they hire everyone back today, it’ll take months before the system is fully staffed again,” Utano said.

Source (Ny Daily news)

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