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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit
Selected Aspects of Subway Station Safety


Issued: June 15, 2017
Link to full audit report 2016-S-11
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit - Division of Station Environment  and Operations has taken appropriate steps to make all of its subway stations safe, and whether “Help Points” and “Customer Assistance Intercoms” are operational and accessible to all.

Background
New York City Transit (Transit) is responsible for providing public transportation in New York City, carrying an average of 5.65 million passengers per day. Maintaining safety and cleanliness for the daily riders who use its 469 subway stations is one of Transit’s essential duties. This is the responsibility of Transit’s Division of Station Environment and Operations (Division) whose stated mission is to “Provide a clean, orderly and well-maintained, customer-oriented station environment.” The Division has five operating units with 6,207 employees who maintain the safety and cleanliness of station areas such as stairs, platforms, mezzanines, and walkways.

The Division’s Operations Training Manual requires Station Supervisors to inspect subway stations at least once every 72 hours. Division’s Bulletin No. 15-12, released May 18, 2012, places defects into five categories, including ‘A’ defects, ‘B’ defects, ‘C’ defects, ‘P’ defects, and Signage defects, defined as follows:

  • 'A’ defects – Affects safety, security, and revenue related issues, and must be made safe or repaired within 24 hours;
  • ‘B’ defects – Any ‘A’ defects that are made safe but are not completed, all non-safety and public employee toilet defects, and all non-safety service booth defects. These defects must be faxed to the Maintenance Service Call Center (MSCC) and are to be repaired within 30 days;
  • ‘C’ defects are non-safety, non-security, and non-revenue related issues. These defects must also be faxed to the MSCC, and they are to be repaired within 60 days;
  • ‘P’ defects are non-safety project type work requiring longer duration and planning to complete; and
  • ‘Signage’ defects (including missing, damaged, vandalized or incorrect messages) should be reported to the Office of Station Signage immediately. This can be done in one of three ways: station signage web portal, email, or fax. 

Key Findings

The Division often did not take sufficient and/or timely actions to identify and address safety-related defects. The audit’s more significant findings are as follows:

  • We identified 66 defects, including 21 Priority ‘A’ defects, at 12 of the 25 subway stations we inspected. However, 20 of the 21 Priority ‘A’ defects were not identified by Station Supervisors during required station inspections within three days before and after our site visits.
  • Once identified, defects were not always addressed within the required time frames. For a random sample of 10 Priority ‘A’ defects, records showed that only three (of the 10) were addressed or made safe within 24 hours, as otherwise required. For five of these defects, the Division took between 6 and 92 days to address/repair the defects. For two other defects, the information was incomplete and, consequently, we could not determine when the defects were addressed/repaired.
  • For Priority ‘B’ defects, the Division took from 55 days to 836 days (or over two years) to repair 19 of the 30 defects examined, far in excess of the prescribed limit of 30 days.
  • Officials could not provide written records supporting 9 of the 82 sample test calls for Help Points/Customer Assistance Intercoms (CAIs). Without an adequate audit trail of such tests, Transit has limited assurance that these systems work properly.

Key Recommendations

  • Revisit the subway stations where auditors identified the defects, determine the current conditions, and take appropriate action. If actions are not required, document the reasons why.
  • Require Station 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/repaired according to Division bulletins/guidelines.
  • Develop and implement formal procedures to document how tests of Help Points/CAIs are to be performed and documented by non-supervisors.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

None


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Manager: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236