Transit officials conceded Friday that more than 90 percent of signal maintenance workers have been involved in falsifying signal inspections but said that the MTA plans to upgrade its records system so it can prevent future fake reporting.
“That’s why you go to the issue of what culturally existed in the organization — what was tolerated, what was embraced, and what was endorsed,” Transit President Thomas Prendergast told reporters following a heated testimony at a City Council Transportation Committee hearing.
The hearing came after a series of Inspector General reports in the last decade that showed workers routinely lied about track and signal tests they didn’t perform.
Transit officials testified that figuring out which supervisors or maintainers created bogus records has been difficult with their current system, which is why they are planning to make upgrades within the next month that will allow them to hold inspectors accountable.
John Samuelson, president of the transit workers union, pointed out that the number of signal maintainers has declined from 2,000 in the 1980s to 1,200 today. Manpower shortages have led to maintainers being pressured and threatened to finish jobs “in an atmosphere of get-it-done-no-matter what,” he said.
Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca slammed leaders for keeping supervisors on the job who have been suspected of faking records over the years.
“I don’t want people who are a under cloud being put in charge of inspecting signals on our tracks,” Vacca said.