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September 15, 2011


DiNapoli: MTA and Staten Island Railway Achieve Maintenance and Inspections Goals; Potential Cost Savings Remain

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's New York City Transit (Transit) and Staten Island Railway (Railway) have met their goals for inspections and maintenance of railcars, but opportunities for greater cost savings exist, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"New York City Transit and the Staten Island Railway deserve credit for achieving their goals of on-schedule inspections and maintenance of the subway cars on which millions of New Yorkers depend," DiNapoli said. "However, there is still more that can be done to improve operations and save millions in taxpayer dollars. I encourage both agencies to use these findings to push forward in finding ways to make this system work more efficiently for riders and taxpayers alike."

DiNapoli's office audited selected aspects of Transit's and Railway's railcar maintenance program for the period January 1, 2007 to November 30, 2009. Auditors examined standards and procedures for maintenance of the railcar fleet, whether railcar maintenance was in compliance with those standards and procedures and if a comprehensive maintenance plan for the railcar fleet existed.

Transit officials reported that subway car inspections happened on schedule roughly 80 percent of the time, which is the stated goal. However, this goal was established in 1999 and has not been re-evaluated since then to reflect performance that should be expected from newer railcars. A review of 409 inspections for 30 railcars shows that 50 inspections (12.2 percent) were not done within Transit's self-imposed 66 day or 10,000 mile timeframe. Of the 50, 14 were performed early and 36 were completed late.

Railway does not use a mileage-based system for determining maintenance schedules but instead relies on scheduled maintenance of 40 to 50 days between inspections. A review of the inspection records of 10 railcars found that 32 of the 211 inspections performed (15.2 percent) in the audit period of January 1, 2007 to October 8, 2009 were not done within the 50 day limit. By examining Railway 'Blue Sheets,' auditors found 31 of the 32 tardy inspections were performed 51 to 240 days late.

As of December 2009, 3,252 cars, roughly one fifth of Transit's current fleet, were in the newer class cars. If Transit changed its interval of inspection cycle for these newer class cars from 66 days to 73 days, as suggested in a Transit pilot program, auditors estimated that Transit would save $2.3 million annually. Railway currently uses a 45 day cycle for car inspections. If it switched to an inspection cycle similar to Transit's current 66 day schedule, they could perform about 163 fewer inspections yearly, saving $283,942 annually.

Overall, the Mean Distance Between Failures (MDBF), a measure of railcar maintenance effectiveness found by taking the number of miles the fleet of cars has been running divided by the number of operating failures attributable to the cars over a stated period of time, has improved considerably over the past several years. For 1997, Transit's MDBF was 77,161 miles. In comparison, for the year ended September 2009, Transit's MDBF was 142,961 miles; an 85 percent improvement.

For a copy of the report click here or visit:

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