BOSTON (CBS) – Just as commuters are being asked to dig deeper into their pockets for an anticipated MBTA fare hike, newly-released salary figures show almost a quarter of the public transit system’s employees will be taking home six-figure incomes in 2015.
The figures show dozens of MBTA employees are doubling–even tripling–their base salaries with massive amounts of overtime. On Tuesday along the Red Line at South Station, the numbers struck a bad chord with regular riders.
“It’s shocking. And then they are talking about doing a 10-percent increase on fares? Something isn’t right,” said Jan Sneegas.
More than two dozen of the employees are making upwards of $200,000. Many are making more in overtime than their actual salary.
“I was floored and dumbfounded,” said Patty Bennett. “I don’t know how any person can make that much in overtime.”
The top worker has raked in more than $315,000. His annual salary is only about $85,000, but the maintenance worker has averaged a stunning 52 hours of overtime per week.
“I don’t know how you do your job because you’re not getting any sleep,” said Jeff Lindholm. “I don’t mind people getting overtime, especially around the holidays. But that sounds exorbitant with the financial state of the T.”
“If people are working that many hours, it ultimately decreases the safety of the overall system,” said Tarlton Watkins. “It also makes it look like some employees are taking advantage of the system.”
MBTA officials blamed part of the bulging overtime budget to the crippling winter. They also said many employees received retroactive pay this year through a union contract settlement.
However, on NightSide with Dan Rea on WBZ NewsRadio, the agency’s general manager agreed it is an unacceptable business model.
“We are trying to dig into why those numbers are so high,” Frank DePaola said. “We are auditing some of the numbers to make sure time records prove that these people were on property when they received this pay.”
An audit is exactly what some of the MBTA’s newly-created Fiscal and Management Control Board recommended after hearing the numbers for the first time at a Monday meeting.
Board members Monica Tibbitts-Nutt and Steve Poftak both told WBZ they would like to see three years of salary data. Those figures would give an indication of whether all that overtime is truly residue from the horrific winter, or a trend of poor staffing.
“A little overtime is not a bad thing,” Poftak said. “But we need to make sure we are giving employees enough relief to provide the level of productivity and safety we demand.”