To the Editor: Growing overtime costs for Metropolitan Transportation Authority NYC Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Rail Road employees has been going on for decades.

It has been repeatedly documented by internal MTA, Office of MTA Inspector General, State Comptroller, Citizens Budget Commission, Empire Center for Public Policy audits and reports, along with numerous newspaper stories.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, his appointed MTA Chairman Patrick Foye and MTA Finance Committee Chairperson Larry Schwartz’s squawks of outrage on this issue remind me of Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” who said “I’m shocked…shocked to find that gambling is going on” just before a club employee hands him his “winnings.”

Every generation of MTA Chairmen, agency Presidents, board members, Finance Officers and executive management who manage agency budgets since the 1980s has made the wrong choice.

They believed it would be cheaper to pay overtime than hire additional employees, whose critical specialized skills were necessary for maintaining safe and reliable transportation operations. They thought they’d save money by avoiding the costs of training, full-time salary plus fringe benefits, medical insurance and pensions by not increasing the headcounts of various departments at New York City Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Rail Road.

This has contributed to excessive overtime expenses approaching $1 billion per year rather than hiring additional new employees.


(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office.)

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