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June 12, 2008

 

DiNapoli: MTA Should Step Up Safety Efforts For Workers and Commuters

MTA Spent $1.1 Billion on Injury, Property Damage Judgments Since 1996

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) spent more than $1.1 billion on 86,875 personal injury or property damage claims filed by passengers, workers and motorists since 1996, according to a report New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released today. DiNapoli’s report also found that the MTA plans to spend $3.6 million to replace armrests on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad trains in order to mitigate damage to passenger clothing.

“Claims paid for personal injury and property damage set a new record in 2007 at $144 million,” DiNapoli said. “The MTA should work harder to make the system safer for riders and workers. It’s about safety and savings. There’s still $1.2 billion of future liabilities to be paid, so the costs to settle judgments and claims will remain a significant budget expense. The MTA should take every reasonable step to reduce future liabilities.”

The DiNapoli report found:

  • Since 1996, 85 cases have been settled for $1 million or more, at a total cost of $233 million, or 20 percent of all claims paid;
  • Claims against the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in 2007 set a record at 1,936 – a twofold increase over the 2003 level. Claims were primarily for clothes caught on and damaged by armrests and for accidents involving the gap between station platforms and trains;
  • The LIRR and Metro-North have encountered problems with the armrests on their new M7 trains, which went into service in 2002. Claims for torn clothing soared in number from three claims filed in 2002 to 1,436 claims filed in 2007, a cumulative total of 3,221 claims;
  • While armrest claims cost a relatively small $285,046, the railroads plan to spend $3.6 million to replace the armrests. The LIRR expects to complete the project by the middle of 2010; Metro-North expects to be done by the first quarter of 2009;
  • Since 1998, the LIRR has received 1,034 claims involving gaps between trains and station platforms. Of these claims, 199 have been or will be paid a total of $16 million;
  • The LIRR and Metro-North had the second and third highest judgment and claims cost per trip among the six largest commuter rail operators in the nation. Metro-North commuters paid $.25 per ride – twice as high as New Jersey Transit, which serves about the same number of riders. LIRR commuters paid $.19 per ride – 50 percent higher than New Jersey Transit.

Click here to view the report.

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