We love the Daily News's I Team. It's the print version of the local news TV van that zooms around the city on special assignment and finds out when somebody is overcharging for your plumbing. You can just hear them as they type away furiously, singing to themselves, "shame Shame SHAME!" And today the News team has come up with a story you can really use — something to get angry about. From the people who brought you "SUBWAY STRIKERS ARE OVERPAID AND LAZY" comes "MTA BRASS ON RUNAWAY CASH TRAIN." Through their investigation, they found out a bundle of different ways that the MTA is wasting money, even as they ask for a fare hike:
• Resource Duplication: "The MTA has seven agencies under its umbrella — each with its own president as well as legal, human resources, payroll and other departments: NYC Transit, Metro-North, Bridges and Tunnels, Long Island Rail Road, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus Company, MTA Long Island Bus."
• Overhiring for Capital Projects: "Division was formed in 2003 to handle big construction projects, like the Second Ave. line and the expansion of the 7 line. It employs 68 — by next year that number is expected to rise to 150. There are 640-plus employees already working on capital projects at other agencies who pocket $38 million in salaries."
• Too Much Help Where We Don't Need It: "There are 21 bathroom attendants at Grand Central making $16,270 to $53,867 a year. Says Metro-North: '700,000 pass through each day, 10,000 meals are sold and they all have to pee.'"
•Too Many Bosses: "Eight agency chiefs make a total of $1.8 million a year, including hefty housing allowances even though many live within commuting distance."
• For the Love of God, They Have Lawyers: "The MTA couldn't fit all the lawyers it employs on a city bus. Dredging through last year's records, The News found a total 112 lawyers with a $12 million payroll. Many of them are hidden in a sub agency practically no one has ever heard of: the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority. In that agency alone, The News found 35 lawyers. There were 39 more at NYC Transit, 19 at MTA headquarters, 11 at the LIRR and eight at Metro-North. Even that was not enough. MTA headquarters has spent millions on outside counsel from some of New York's most prestigious —and expensive — law firms."
According to the News, even the MTA knows this is all a problem. "Over the long term, we believe that the MTA could see significant savings by centralizing many human resources and financial functions," said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. "To that end, we have begun to analyze the costs and benefits of a business services center." They've even hired someone to look at this problem, for $120,000 a year. But he won't have a report until next year. Which is clearly the biggest waste of money, considering the I Team just did it for free! Forget McKinsey, we know who is getting all our consulting business from now on.