Metro-North Workers Falsify Time Sheets: NYT

December 20, 2013

Article and video as it appeared on NBC Connecticut
By Josh Chapin | Friday, Dec 20, 2013 NBC Connecticut

Metro-North is in a negative spotlight again amid new questions about the commuter rail line’s workers and what they’re doing when they’re supposed to be on the clock.

An internal investigation found padded time sheets, including workers who took trips to Pennsylvania for cigarettes and fireworks while they were on the clock, according to The New York Times.

The New York Times, which first reported on the investigation, says the information is contained in a draft letter, dated Dec. 3, from Inspector General Barry Kluger.

Metro-North Spokesman Aaron Donovan released a statement Thursday saying the report “is a draft that was never delivered to Metro-North Railroad, so we cannot comment on its particular findings.” But he said the rail system “has been working closely with the Inspector General during his investigation and will aggressively take appropriate disciplinary action when we receive a final report. ”

“All Metro-North employees are expected to work a full day for a full day’s pay. We will not tolerate any behavior that falls short of that standard. We are installing GPS on all our vehicles in response to an earlier report from the Inspector General, and we have also initiated a comprehensive review with both the Inspector General and MTA Auditor General to strengthen internal controls within Metro-North’s Maintenance of Way department,” he said.

Still, some commuters couldn’t believe the scathing internal report released on Metro-North.

“That’s mismanagement no matter where it happened whether it happens at Metro North or a private company it’s just mismanagement,” said Melissa Ciotoli of Westport.

Mismanagement is just a small bit of what the inspector general uncovered, according to State Sen. Toni Boucher.

“This is using taxpayers money in a fraudulent way. Falsifying time sheets, public automobiles for private use,” Boucher said.

Boucher is troubled by the apparent lack of oversight, especially at a time when safety is of an utmost concern to riders after a series of accidents, mostly recent the one in the Bronx in early December that left four dead.

“And it should not be tolerated. Not at all. People’s heads need to roll with regards to something like this,” said Boucher.

The investigation revealed one crew was driving aimlessly when they were supposedly doing overtime.

“As much as that sounds problematic I’m much more focused on the timeliness of the trains,” said Sam Walker of Weston. Walker said he feels the trains have deteriorated in terms of service since the derailment in Bridgeport in May and a worker was struck and killed by a train in West Haven later the same month.

“You’d be kidding yourself if you’re not a little more terrified each time you hear a bump or a turn or a twist,” Walker added.