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State audit: MTA buses too costly to maintain

A waiting MTA bus sitting by the Rockville

A waiting MTA bus sitting by the Rockville Centre station while an east bound train enters the station. (March 1, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

MTA buses, including those in Nassau County, cost too much to maintain and aren't being maintained well enough, according to an audit by the state comptroller released Thursday.

The audit by the office of Thomas DiNapoli found that nearly two-thirds of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 29 bus depots did not meet their performance goals and that the cost per mile to maintain MTA buses was much higher than in other fleets in the United States.

DiNapoli's audit also found that nearly half of the MTA's required bus inspections were carried out poorly or not at all, and that mechanical failures among buses were more frequent than expected.

The audit noted that two depots in Nassau County used by Long Island Bus had "very low goals" for how long their vehicles should run between breakdowns.

The auditors recommended that the MTA improve the reliability of its fleet, find ways to bring down maintenance costs and prepare a "comprehensive maintenance plan" for buses.

In a written response, MTA Chief Operating Officer Charles Monheim said the agency "generally agrees" with the recommendations, has undertaken initiatives to reduce costs and "will continue to seek further improvements."

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