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NYS Comptroller



From the Office of the New York State Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

June 15, 2017, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: NYC Transit Should Improve Response to Safety-Related Defects

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)'s New York City Transit is taking too long to correct safety-related defects in subway stations, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"My auditors found defects that could potentially compromise subway safety which had not been identified by station supervisors during their inspections," said DiNapoli. "They also identified defects which were not corrected in a timely manner. Delays in identifying and responding to unsafe conditions is a risk that can be prevented."

The audit, which covers the period from Jan. 1, 2014 to July 5, 2016, identified 66 safety defects in 25 subway stations in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens.

The MTA classifies safety defects in five categories. Most critical are the "A" defects which affect safety and security, and are revenue-related. According to the MTA, priority "A" defects must be made safe or repaired within 24 hours. Priority "B" defects are not deemed to pose a safety risk, and corrective action must be taken within 30 days.

DiNapoli's auditors found 21 priority "A" defects at 12 stations that had been inspected by station supervisors. The defects included: loose stairway treads; exposed, sharp metal objects; station platform cracks; and an oil leak on the station platform. Several of the defects involved water conditions (water leaks and water on stairs or platform areas) which Transit defines as an "A" safety-related defect.

The MTA's New York City Transit, Division of Station Environment and Operations is charged with taking steps to make sure stations are safe, and whether "help points" and customer assistance intercoms are working properly and accessible.

The Division requires station supervisors to inspect subway stations every 72 hours. However, 20 of the 21 priority "A" defects found by DiNapoli's auditors had not been identified by supervisors either three days before or three days after auditors had visited the stations. DiNapoli's office recommended that station supervisors and other personnel be required to attend refresher training courses on conducting timely and thorough subway station inspections.

Auditors reviewed records for 10 priority "A" defects that were identified by station supervisors. Only three defects, including loose fixtures in the stairway or on the platform, were addressed within 24 hours as required. The Division took between 6 and 92 days to address five defects, including snow in the station and a clogged drain. For two defects, auditors found that information was insufficient to determine whether required corrective action had been taken.

Auditors also reviewed records for 30 priority "B" defects and found that four were repaired within 30 days as required, while seven had undated work orders which did not allow any assessment of timeliness. Nineteen priority "B" defects took longer than 30 days to be addressed, including three defects that took more than one year to correct.

DiNapoli issued the following recommendations:

  • Revisit the stations auditors identified defects, determine the current conditions, and take appropriate action. If actions are not required, document the reasons why.
  • Require supervisors and other Division personnel, as appropriate, to attend refresher training courses emphasizing the importance of conducting thorough subway station inspections.
  • Ensure that defects are addressed or repaired according to Division guidelines.
  • Develop and implement formal procedures to document how tests of customer assistant intercoms are to be performed and documented by non-supervisors.

The MTA said that in 2016 they had an average of 422 "A" defects reported each month and had sustained a "near-perfect" rate of for more than three years in repairing close to 100 percent of the safety defects within the 24-hour window. However, auditors noted that there is a material risk that Transit's performance statistics are not accurate. When the MTA provided auditors the data on which the MTA's statistics are based, the MTA cautioned that the data could not be relied upon. The full MTA response is in the audit.

DiNapoli also issued a report on the Staten Island Railway (SIR), a unit of the MTA. Auditors examined whether steps were being taken to address safety issues at train stations, including determining whether "customer assistance intercoms" were operational and accessible. The audit found the intercom system was not in operation system-wide and that the SIR could not document action taken to address three of the 32 safety-related incidents reported from January 2014 through April 2016. All three incidents reported a passenger falling on the platform or near the token booth. In addition, SIR did not have written policies or procedures for addressing safety-related incidents at stations.

Read the report on the MTA, or go to:

Read the report on the SIR, or go to:

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