EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was created in 1965 by New York State to maintain and to improve commuter transportation and related services within the Metropolitan Transportation Commuter District. This District encompasses the City of New York (City) and Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. Chapter 415, § 1277, of the New York State Public Authorities Law (NYSPAL) of 1966, requires that each local governmental unit reimburse the MTA for the cost of operating, maintaining, and using commuter passenger stations within their boundaries. In June 2000, the New York State Legislature amended § 1277 of the NYSPAL to establish an annual fixed billing. The bill is adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the New York, Northeastern-New Jersey Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area.

This audit reviewed the Metro-North Railroad (Metro-North) maintenance operations and the conditions of its City Stations. Prior to the State fiscal year ending March 31, 2000, we audited the MTA’s claim for reimbursement of actual costs associated with the maintenance, use, and operation of Metro-North’s City Stations to verify whether the costs were reasonable, accurate, and allowed under Chapter 415, § 1277 of NYSPAL. The MTA’s bill for both Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) City Stations for the period April 1, 2000, to March 31, 2001, totaled $65,359,978. We are conducting an audit––#FN01-190A––of the LIRR’s City Stations. The results of that audit will be covered in a separate report.

Our audit objectives were to determine whether Metro-North maintained the City Stations in a clean and safe condition; corrected unsafe and unsanitary conditions at City Stations identified in the previous report; and provided maintenance services for City Stations in accordance with Metro-North’s standards and procedures.

We met with Metro-North officials to obtain an understanding of their station maintenance operation. We reviewed operating procedures and standards adopted by Metro-North and examined station maintenance and cleaning records to determine Metro-North’s compliance with those procedures; inspected all Metro-North City Stations to determine whether they were properly maintained; and determined whether the MTA provided adequate police protection at the City Stations. In addition, we determined whether unsafe and unsanitary conditions noted in our prior audit (#FN00-175A, issued February 27, 2001) were corrected.

Our review of Metro-North’s maintenance operations for all 14 City Stations found that one station––Woodlawn––was free of problems. Eight stations––Grand Central Terminal, Harlem-125th Street, Melrose, Botanical Garden, Williams Bridge, Morris Heights, Marble Hill, and Spuyten Duyvil––were in good or fair condition, with only minor problems.

However, five other stations––Tremont, Fordham, Wakefield, University Heights, and Riverdale––were not properly maintained and had potentially hazardous conditions in need of repair. Many of these conditions were noted in our prior audit report. The potentially hazardous conditions included missing third rail caps and sleeve covers; raised metal expansion plates; uneven, cracked, and crumbling cement; and deteriorated steps and staircases. (See Appendix II for photographs of some of the conditions we observed during this audit.) The chart on page ES-5 summarizes the types of problems at each station and identifies those problems found in our previous audit.

Moreover, Metro-North did not always correct or adequately address the problems that were indicated as early as July 1999 on inspection reports prepared by its own Customer Service and Operation Services Departments during Metro-North’s inspections at certain City Stations.

For example, Metro-North’s Customer Service Department reported in its May, July, and August 2000 inspections of the Tremont Station that the stairway was cracked and rusted; and the Operation Services Department cited in every inspection report from July 2000 through June 2001 that the Tremont Station stairs were in "bad shape" and that the northbound platform had "spalling" concrete. These conditions were also reported in our prior audit. During our most recent inspections of the Tremont Station in July and August 2001, we found that no corrective action had been taken to repair the stairs at this station.

As a second example, during inspections conducted at the Wakefield Station from May 2000 through June 2001, Metro-North’s Customer Service and Operation Services Department cited loose, spalling, and cracked concrete on both platforms; chipped paint on the walls, stairs, and canopy; and graffiti on the stairway, walls, and canopy. These same conditions still existed during our inspections of this station in July and August 2001.

Finally, both Metro-North’s Customer Service and Operations Services Departments reported in their May 2000 inspection reports that the stairway at the Riverdale Station is rusted and that the stairs are "bumpy." Moreover, Customer Service Department officials reported that the Riverdale Station platform had loose and spalling concrete, that stairs were chipped, and that the steelwork of the stairway was rusting. These conditions were cited in our prior audit report and still existed when we inspected this station in July and August 2001.

In addition, during our inspections of Metro-North’s City stations in July and August 2001, the number of stations that were missing portions of the protective third rail caps and sleeve covers increased from four stations cited in our prior audit to nine stations––Harlem-125th Street, Tremont, Fordham, Botanical Gardens, Williams Bridge, Morris Heights, University Heights, Marble Hill, and Riverdale. The uncovered areas of the third rail created the potential for contact with high voltage electricity, a hazardous and dangerous condition.

MTA and Metro-North should:

  1. Correct all unsafe and dangerous station conditions immediately.
  2. Replace all missing third rail caps and protective sleeve covers immediately.
  3. Repair the platforms, stairways, and other deteriorated structures identified in this report.
  4. Clean and remove the graffiti and debris identified in this report.
  5. Ensure that conditions identified by its inspectors are promptly corrected.
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Metro-North officials agreed with the report’s five recommendations and responded that most of the New York City Stations are scheduled for significant improvement or capital reconstruction. In the interim, the respective maintenance departments will continue to make temporary repairs. Metro-North officials also responded that its Power Department will continue replacing missing third rail caps and sleeve covers.

As part of Metro-North’s response, its Structures, Power, and Operations Departments described the actions that they have taken in response to the station conditions cited in this report. These actions included replacing third rail covers and caps; repairing platform concrete, staircases, and walkways; removing graffiti; and replacing broken glass.