An audit by the office of New York State Comptroller...

An audit by the office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli looked at maintenance and inventory practices at the LIRR. Credit: Howard Simmons

A new audit from a state watchdog points to sloppy and inconsistent record-keeping at the Long Island Rail Road, including in the form of more than $1 million in track equipment that the LIRR could not find in its own database.

The audit from the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli looked at maintenance and inventory practices for “on-rail equipment,” including track inspection cars, cranes and other equipment used for construction.

Out of the 243 pieces of equipment used by the LIRR, auditors looked at a sample of 30. The LIRR was unable to provide complete ownership files for most of those, and “could not find eight in the database — with an original estimated cost of $1.15 million.”

The report also looked at maintenance and record-keeping practices for the LIRR’s fleet of more than 1,000 “nonrevenue service vehicles,” including trucks used by railroad workers. Of 76 vehicles looked at it in the audit, 30 were “missing one or more essential documents” in their files.

The audit also found that the railroad did not keep up on required preventative maintenance or state inspections on some vehicles, and overpaid for inspections on others — paying up to $130 for inspections that should have cost $26.

The railroad also didn’t conduct cost-benefit analyses when considering whether to buy or lease some vehicles, and ended up paying $81,000 more to lease one vehicle than it would have cost to buy it.

In a statement, DiNapoli noted that the audit comes as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — the LIRR’s parent organization — “works to recover from revenue losses brought on by the pandemic.”

“LIRR can do more to make sure it’s not overpaying for the highway fleet vehicles it uses and that they’re properly maintained along with its rail equipment,” DiNapoli said.

The LIRR agreed with most of the recommendations made by auditors, including that the railroad formalize record-keeping standards.

“We appreciate the Comptroller’s recommendations as the Long Island Rail Road continues to implement oversight protocols to improve efficiency and accountability,” MTA spokesman Michael Cortez said.

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