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MTA spends more than $777M to maintain its buses: DiNapoli

By Philip Newman

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has found fault with the MTA’s inspection of its bus fleet, calling the process too expensive.

The audit said bus maintenance cost in excess of $777 million in 2008.

“New Yorkers aren’t getting what they pay for when it comes to bus service,” DiNapoli said. “Other cities across the nation spend much less on maintenance and get better results. The MTA needs to step up bus maintenance performance and bring down maintenance costs.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it agrees with most of the report’s recommendations to help improve reliability and cost effectiveness and has taken steps in the past year to reduce bus maintenance costs.

DiNapoli’s audit examined records from the MTA’s regional bus operations division between 2007 and 2009.

The comptroller’s auditors reported that:

• nearly two-thirds of the 29 bus depots did not meet their performance goals

• maintenance costs per mile of operation were much higher than other bus fleets around the nation

• a total of 584 of the MTA’s 1,255 required maintenance inspections were performed poorly or not at all

• mechanical failures were more frequent than expected and one depot had a goal of 674 miles between failures, but its actual distance traveled between failures was 3,581 miles

DiNapoli’s auditors recommended that the MTA:

• improve the reliability of its bus fleet

• identify reasons why maintenance costs are so high and develop a plan to reduce them

• prepare a comprehensive maintenance plan that includes information on maintenance program objectives and unscheduled maintenance operations

The MTA said, “On background, a major part of the MTA’s increased bus maintenance costs result from two fixed factors. One is passenger utilization that is 1.6 to 3.8 miles higher than peer [buses in other cities] systems. The other is a higher density urban environment that results in more ‘stop and go’ operations than other systems, which leads to a more strenuous duty cycle for major bus components such as engines, transmissions and brakes.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at [email protected] or phone at 718-260-4536.

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