Greater Greater Washington

Budget


What do Metro employees really make?

WMATA provided data about employee salaries, bonuses, overtime and benefits for fiscal year 2009. Is the $100,000 bus driver a myth, or reality? Does Metro depend on a lot of overtime? Are bonuses incredibly high, or used primarily as a symbolic recognition of a job well done?

First, here are the ten most common jobs at Metro:

Title Number Avg Salary Max Salary Avg Overtime
Metrobus Operator 2672 $49,500 58,600 7,400
Train Operator 611 52,300 58,200 10,500
Station Manager 523 55,700 58,200 11,500
Janitor 202 39,200 45,400 5,600
Metro Police 194 62,100 86,900 9,300
Bus Operations Mgr 139 77,400 92,500 900
Escalator/Elevator Tech 138 80,600 80,700 2,900
Metro Police MTPD 114 68,100 86,900 12,700
Railcar Cleaner 104 38,700 45,400 1,500

This is a high cost area, and you want people to want these jobs to stick with them for enough years that they have some experience. The jobs that require more specialized skills, involve greater personal risk or supervisory roles are compensated higher than less risky or less skilled jobs.

When you compare this compensation against the Federal government's GS scale and equivalent jobs posted on USA Jobs.com, the WMATA employees typically make a couple of dollars more per hour compared to Federal workers. They also enjoy better pensions, but no defined contribution matching like TSP, and have higher employer contributions to health care plans. The feds pay for 2/3 of a health care plan, while WMATA has agreed to pay for only 3/4 of the increase in health care costs, which the union representatives I've talked to refer to as a concession to WMATA.

Average bus operators and train operators don't normally make over $50-70k. On the other hand, a few bus or operators put in enough overtime to qualify for the $100,000 per year club, all by putting in significant amounts of overtime:

Position Total Compensation
Rail Operator $113,300
Rail Operator $109,500
Rail Operator $104,500
Rail Operator $103,200
Bus Operator $102,600
Rail Operator $102,500
Bus Operator $101,800
Rail Operator $101,300
Bus Operator $100,200
Bus Operator $100,000

Some instances of high overtime are related to long hours put in by supervisors and track workers in the aftermath of the June 22 accident or other incidents. In all, almost 400 employees got a third of their total compensation from overtime (that is, overtime added half of their base salary).

I do not begrudge employees that put in a lot of overtime their fair pay, and I understand that working long hours sucks, and overtime is a fair way to compensate people for working long hours. Having many employees extended so far beyond their normal working hours is a good example of Metro's funding challenge. Metro understands this, they've discussed reducing their overtime and they've made some progress on overtime.

Considering Metro pensions are based on your highest four earning years, including overtime, excessive overtime can hurt Metro's bottom line not only in the current year, but for years to come if the pensions are increased dramatically by overtime. The pension multiplier for the first 27 years of service is a reasonable 1.7 times your high four years of earnings, but most other government agencies would calculate it based on only your base salary.

What did Metro's top managers make in 2009? Here are the top ten spots, ranked by salary plus bonuses:

Title Salary Overtime + Bonus
General Manager $315,000 0
Chief Financial Officer 235,000 15,000
Deputy General Manager 235,800 0
Deputy General Manager 231,000 0
Chief Safety Officer 181,300 10,000
Assistant General Manager, Bus Services 184,000 0
Inspector General 177,700 0
General Counsel 175,100 200
Chief of Staff 172,700 200
Chief Performance Officer 170,700 200

Considering the General Manager and his top staff are responsible for running an organization of over 10,000 employees and managing billions of dollars in assets, these salaries do not seem too out of line or unreasonable.

Who at Metro makes more than $100,000 per year in salary only, other than top managers? From the looks of the data, the police force, white collar workers like contract administrators, attorneys, engineers and IT professionals earn that much.

Who makes over $100,000 per year when you include overtime and (less frequently) bonuses? Over 700 employees. Very few train operators or bus drivers. Lots of police officers, Almost 400 police officers, the supervisors of Metrorail central control and the superintendents in charge of maintaining the tracks and wayside communications. Several very senior mechanics. Senior operations supervisors, and very senior (AA grade) technicians.

Position Number of $100K+ employees
Metro Police Officers 74
Track and Wayside Supervisors 17
Mechanic AA ELCL PWRHV Rail 16
Central Control Supervisor 15
Contract Administrator 15
Shift Supervisor ELCL POWER TIES 15
Rail Station Manager 10
Rail Operations Supervisor 9
Network Technician 8
Attorney 8

Therefore, a few employees at Metro make over $100,000 a year, but they are either senior managers or supervisors, or put in significant amounts of overtime. Given the demands of long hours and the high costs of living here, it's not unreasonable for some workers to make that much.

On the other hand, it's hard to tell what are reasonable wages for transit workers without knowing how hard Metro has to work to recruit new talent. If wages are too low, Metro will find it difficult to recruit people that will put up with inflexible working hours, often starting early in the morning and ending late in the evening, with a no-man's-land of dead time in the middle of the day. Leave must be scheduled months in advance.

What do you think? Do you think the pay is too high? Was it higher than you expected, or just about right, or not enough? Should Metro push to increase pension rates, but require that the pension calculations reflect regular hours only?

Update: I added a link in the article to the 400-page PDF containing the salary data.

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia. 

Comments

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Isn't it odd that Escalator/Elevator Techs seem to earn a flat salary?

That said, Metro needs to make overtime reduction a priority. It will save money, possibly create jobs, and improve safety.

by andrew on May 12, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

The base salaries seem reasonable. But it would be good to cut back on overtime. If you're paying time-and-a-half for overtime, then it's probably cheaper to add new workers than to pay overtime.

The change they really need to make, though, is to stop including overtime when calculating pensions: the pension should be calculated using the base salary only. As is, it's way too generous a pension. And perhaps more importantly, it gives workers a huge incentive to work ridiculous amounts of overtime during the four years right before they retire. That can be really dangerous. There was a major subway accident (roughly thirty years ago in New York, if I'm remembering correctly) that was caused by the train operator falling asleep, because he had been working 120-hour weeks in order to boost his pension. That subway system changed their rules so overtime no longer counted toward your pension, in order to prevent that same kind of accident from happening again. Metro really needs to do the same thing, before we have an accident like that.

by Rob on May 12, 2010 10:40 am • linkreport

1. Station managers: what exactly do they do? Sit in their booth and sulk? I've had 1 in 14 years that was helpful.

2. How many police officers does WMATA have - and exactly what do they do again? Fire them all and contract that out.

3. Calculating your pension based on your 4 highest years including overtime is just a massive incentive to, hmm, rack up overtime.

by charlie on May 12, 2010 10:40 am • linkreport

I noticed the same thing as Andrew. Unsuck DC Metro has an allegation that elevator/escalator techs might be shirking. If there is really no incentive for them to work quickly and effectively, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case. This doesn't seem like a job where Metro would be willing to fire someone for anything other than atrocious performance, so keeping their boss happy, and pride in their work, is the only incentive they have to fix elevators and escalators quickly.

by Jordan on May 12, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

Michael - Thanks for a lot of research about an issue that's in need of factual analysis.

I'd add one policy point. We see a lot of management books about how organizations need to encourage risk-taking, but risk-taking is not what riders want from a bus driver or a rail mechanic. Metro's aim in hiring should be to attract the kind of employee who's worrying about their children's health coverage and their retirement, not the person who's thinking only about how much cash will be in their pocket on Friday night.

For that reason, the compensation package ought to be weighted more toward benefits than toward salary. It's off-base to complain about the benefits without looking at the total compensation package.

For the same reason - in addition to the direct cost saving - it makes sense to try to cut back on overtime.

by Ben Ross on May 12, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport

Guys, most people's multiplier is 2-3 as far as costs compared to direct salary. Therefore, if you make 100,000 a year, it costs 250,000 to support you as an employee (on average). Overtime is far cheaper than hiring a new person. You will continue to have the new person's salary costs whether the demand for their labor remains or not. Metro can't just hire and fire seasonally like the mall for skilled jobs. If they did, these skilled workers would need to be paid even more due to the increased risk.

Everyone is right that counting overtime towards your pension is an incentive to cheat, though. This needs to be explored further.

It's also important to note that FRA regulations prohibit more than a certain number of hours per shift and week for train operators. This number is already considered to be safe, so safety gains would be minimal, and there is a ceiling on how much overtime one of these workers could put in.

by Matt on May 12, 2010 10:58 am • linkreport

I'd rather see what WMATA's average labor costs are in comparison to other transit systems in the region and in similarly-priced metro areas.

by Adam L on May 12, 2010 11:19 am • linkreport

So if a rail operator's base is around $55k, but w/ overtime makes $100,000 ANY 4 years of work, then Metro pays that person a pension of $170,000/yr? That's a massive incentive to cheat ("Please don't step back from the doors! I need to spend as much time at the station as I can to make sure I get to the rail yard late!")

Committing Metro to that, plus free fares for the worker and their family, is bound to become a burden that's too hefty. Didn't similarly generous UAW pensions and perks during years of financial trouble wipe out the auto industry, Michigan's cities, and tens of thousands of UAW jobs?

I understand (and support) the desire to make as much as you can, but Metro and ATU should take the long view and see if this system is sustainable and can ensure that Metro will be able to continue to employ people decades from now at good wages when today's workers' pensions drive tomorrow's budget.

by D on May 12, 2010 11:27 am • linkreport

Also -- I appreciate the research, but it may be more fair to look at 2008 (pre June Accident) labor costs as a more accurate measure? These number do may it look like workers are making more than they typically would.

by D on May 12, 2010 11:28 am • linkreport

Indeed. I'm not usually a fan of outsourcing/contracting of government, but it might be a good idea for WMATA to consider putting an escalator maintenance contract out to bid with well-defined performance criteria.

@Charlie:
Station managers can respond to emergencies, assist tourists, and generally keep an eye on the station (prevents vandalism). I witnessed a medical emergency on the Orange line a few weeks back, and the manager was on the platform as soon as we arrived, and had cleared a path for the EMTs who arrived a few minutes later.

Also, virtually every mass transit system maintains a police department. Although I'll agree that DC has an absurd number of police jurisdictions, I'm glad that there are a few officers specifically keeping an eye on Metro.

by andrew on May 12, 2010 11:30 am • linkreport

I saw an escalator repair worker today. I almost took a picture....I also saw 5 broken platform elevators.

by D on May 12, 2010 11:39 am • linkreport

Those cops are making a lot of money for a job that can't be any more demanding than the jobs of cops in other DC area jurisdictions. Agreed, contract that out, or devise a way to share jurisdictional responsibility with affected police forces and eliminate completely.

by JTS on May 12, 2010 11:46 am • linkreport

Cut down on overtime, hire more people. Tired bus drivers are a danger.

by Jasper on May 12, 2010 12:44 pm • linkreport

@Andrew; really? I can earn $55,000 (plus overtime) for "clearing a path". Thanks.

I have no doubt station mangers do use things. However, it is a job that requires few skills. Sorry. Not every job leads to a career. I'm glad you saw a station manger in action. There are some good ones out there. Few and far between.

And how much do you want to bet the EMT were NOT from metro. Again, not sure why WMATA need so much police and infrastructure. Or right. Terrorism. I have so much confidence in their ability to handle that...

by charlie on May 12, 2010 12:55 pm • linkreport

This salary information is informative, but one significant aspect is missing: cost-of-living increases.

If WMATA's maximum base salaries were exactly just that--true maximums--balancing the budget would be a lot more manageable. But that's not the case.

What happens when an employee reaches the top salary level, but he/she is only 45 years of age? Does the salary remain fixed? Of course not! There are then annual cost-of-living increases which thereafter steadily accrue. Oh, to be sure, the maximum base salary will technically be fixed (well, at least until the next union contract, when it will jump), but that's certainly not the whole picture.

by Zac on May 12, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport

It's helpful to have all these data. It's clear from the comments, though, that they won't stop the attempt at treating a few high overtime employees as "welfare queens" and making it seem that Metro could solve all their problems by cutting wages. The same people seem silent on topics of executive compensation in the private sector, although I'm sure they will claim otherwise. If you want a functional trasnit system, you need people who are available on a consistent basis regardless of how busy they are at any one time, know the eqipment, etc. Most of our armchair managers probably can't change their own oil.

There are legitimate questions of how many people are needed to perform different functions. It's often difficult to tell who is supposed to be doing the work and who supervises and just how many people are needed for basic tasks like staffing a busy station. Other judgments are more qualitative--the management and supervision seems inconsistent and lax; it's difficult to know how well qualified managememt is for overseeing maintenance and customer service, which appear to be teh systems weakest points. The system needs dedicated funding and also a way to insure that it's used properly and the jurisdictional reps haven't always provided assurance that they are minding the store.

by Rich on May 12, 2010 2:14 pm • linkreport

@ Rich.

Per your first point, no. The issue is not about executive compensation. Those figures are in line with other executive compensation rates for mass transit systems in the US. It's a drop in the bucket compared to people lower on the totem pole when you consider that for every executive making 300k (1), there are 10 station managers making 100k, and 74 cops making 100k. Lots of people making too much money for the job duties and/or working too many hours without approval is the problem. Executive pay, in this case, is not. If Catoe and his ilk were getting big performance bonuses or overtime, that would be a different story.

Also, I don't think anyone is calling overpaid metro employees welfare queens. I think that the commentariat is acknowledging that these employees are responding (as anyone would) to perverse incentives that should be looked at more closely. that's all.

by JTS on May 12, 2010 2:27 pm • linkreport

The data in the first table, which compares average salary and maximum salary, is misleading. These figures are average and maximum BASE salaries. There's a big difference, however, between the base salary and what an employee actually earns.

For example, say an employee is hired at a base salary level of $40,000. After a year, this salary is then automatically adjusted upward because a cost-of-living contract provisions. This COS increase will automatically kick in every year thereafter.

In the meantime, the employee begins to move up the salary ladder, so after a year or two, the base salary jumps to, say, $42,000. And it will, of course, continue to steadily rise as the employee gains more seniority until reaching the maximum. Moreover, the annual cost-of-living increase is then calculated on the higher base salary.

Take note, too, in the first table how, in may job categories, the average salary almost reaches the maximum salary. It's almost as if the average salary IS the maximum salary. What this tells us is that WMATA employees appear to be moving too quickly through the salary ladder.

by Zac on May 12, 2010 2:55 pm • linkreport

I forgot to mention that the data set is available to anyone who wants it as a 400-page text layer PDF.

by Michael Perkins on May 12, 2010 3:00 pm • linkreport

Wow, that is a lot of bus drivers! No wonder Metro has a huge budget.

These numbers make for a nice, simple comparison of rail to bus efficiency, on a per employee basis. By my count there are about 1700 employees dedicated to Metorail operations (fewer than half of them drivers). The BTS ridership numbers tell us that Metrorail generates more than three times the passenger mile and handles about twice as many transit trips as Metrobus. Doing the math, Metrorail is 5.6 times as efficient (on a passenger mile per employee basis) and 3.1 times as efficient (on a transit trip per employee basis) as Metrobus.

(No wonder places with high labor costs favor high capacity rail transit systems over lower-capacity bus transit systems.)

Now wouldn't it be great if we could have the best of both worlds? A transit technology with a high passenger/rider ratio but without all those expensive station managers and escalator engineers to pay? I wonder if such a thing exists ...

by egk on May 12, 2010 3:09 pm • linkreport

@D: So if a rail operator's base is around $55k, but w/ overtime makes $100,000 ANY 4 years of work, then Metro pays that person a pension of $170,000/yr? That's a massive incentive to cheat ("Please don't step back from the doors! I need to spend as much time at the station as I can to make sure I get to the rail yard late!")

The calculation is actually number of years worked times 1.7% times the average of your highest four years for the first 27 years worked, and then a little better than that for more than 27 years. I don't know where you get $170,000 a year from that.

Also, I went to analysis with the data I could get (2009) rather than some other data set. I'm actually surprised I got anything from the request, but I worded it identically to a previous request that had been successful.

by Michael Perkins on May 12, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

The job titles in the chart are translated from "WMATA speak". If I recall correctly, there are many different grades of techs, ranging from D (newest) to AA (most experienced). The data I gave for most common jobs was probably for only one grade of technician, which is why the escalator/elevator techs all seem to make the same amount of money.

I'll put the data set up on Scribd when I get a chance. All my metro documents are available on Scribd, at http://www.scribd.com/perkinsms

by Michael Perkins on May 12, 2010 3:17 pm • linkreport

EGK's comment go the point that we need to split rail and bus. WMATA hasn't done a good job of leveraging them. The bus expenses are killing WMATA, and you need to set rail free. It can operate with minimum subsidies. Bus can't, and it would be better to let each local jurisdiction fund their own bus (or streetcar) program.

by charlie on May 12, 2010 3:35 pm • linkreport

Breaking off Metro rail operations from WMATA to form an entirely new entity--now that's an idea!

by Zac on May 12, 2010 4:10 pm • linkreport

Policing should be handled by MPD so training costs can be reduced and quality increased.

Same goes for escalator/elevator repair techs. Tho, working in construction, those guys are notoriously expensive and hard to work with. I'd like to think that with as much equipment as metro has, that they could get competitive pricing from the half dozen or so respectable companies, but again, they have a strong union and high rates.

by dano on May 12, 2010 4:39 pm • linkreport

I may have missed this somewhere in the comments or in other posts, but how much are Metro Board members compensated? I can't imagine that they don't get something besides their lifetime Smartrip Cards (which we all know some board members never use).

by Metro Board on May 12, 2010 6:34 pm • linkreport

(1) "Station Manager" is a truly annoying title. They don't manage squat. "Station Attendant" is what they do - or should do - but that "Manager" title makes incumbents think they are somehow above having to provide actual customer service.

(2) As with so many other aspects of the enterprise, Metro's staffing costs are out of control and it sure looks like we're paying too much for the people who are to a great extent the cause of the mess. Fares are going up, service is being reduced, jurisdictions throughout the region are being asked to shell out more - yet somehow nobody is willing to put forth the proposition that the staff should participate in the belt tightening. In the private sector this does happen: been there, done that.

(3) @dano, MPD doesn't police Metro because WMATA is in so many different states, counties and municipalities: no existing agency covers its entire service area. This might be an excellent time, however, to revisit the arrangement.

(4) It is highly unusual in any airport, hotel, office building or shopping centre to see an out-of-service escalator. It is even more unusual to take a trip through our subway without encountering at least one that isn't working. Metro's way of going about escalator maintenance is demonstrably not working. Can't they at least look to see how it's done in the airports?

by intermodal commuter on May 12, 2010 7:29 pm • linkreport

The average salary of a company where the boss makes $1,000,000 and the other employee makes $1 is $500,000.
Averages are meaningless when looking at a Metro system where new employees earn next to nothing, with few benefits, and the top pay people ready to retire leave with pensions over $100,000 per year for life, with health insurance paid for and ready to move into a new career as young people.
the many pension plans for Metro employees are underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars, as are the health insurance plans. It is why we all pay too much for one of the most compact and dense mass transit systems which is also the most unsafe caused by incompetent management and politicians who agree to absurd labor contracts to collect the millions in union campaign subsidies.

by Jack Adams on May 12, 2010 8:32 pm • linkreport

What is the starting salary for a Metrobus operator?

by Metro User on May 12, 2010 8:42 pm • linkreport

From the WMATA web site: Transit Police Recruiting

Applicants with prior law enforcement experience will be offered a starting salary that is commensurate with their years of experience to a maximum of five years. The maximum starting salary is currently $59,341.00.

Employment Benefits

Members of the Metropolitan Transit Police force enjoy the following benefits:

* Salary of $48,106 to $86,338, plus shift differential
* Opportunity for promotion after five years of sworn service
* Police Officer 2/3 positions
* Clothing allowance of $450 - $900 per year
* Blue Cross/Blue Shield (PPO) health insurance, including major medical, dental, eye care, and prescription coverage
* Group life insurance
* Disability retirement plan
* Worker's compensation plan
* Deferred compensation annuity plan
* Paid holidays, annual and sick leave, and military leave/sick leave bank
* Permanent shifts/days off
* Retirement after 25 years of service (no minimum age) at 64%
* Tuition reimbursement plan
* Uniforms and equipment are provided by the Department (academy uniforms must be purchased)
* Free bus/rail transportation

Hmm. A minimum starting salary of $48,106. Reasonable. The maximum is $86,338. While getting up there, this level of compensation is still reasonable, and not outrageous by any measure. I would guess (but could be wrong) these salaries are tied to the CPI or some other cost-of-living index, and are automatically adjusted yearly.

by Metro User on May 12, 2010 9:02 pm • linkreport

@Metro Board:

The board members get whatever their sponsoring jurisdictions decide to give them. In the case of the DC and Virginia representatives, I believe they get nothing, as serving on these kinds of boards is part of their job as an elected or administration official.

For Maryland, I think the state provides their representatives with some compensation.

Keep in mind that like many boards, membership on the wmata board is not supposed to be a full time job.

I would say that it would be fair for all board members toget aomething to serve, but it shouldn't be a full salary.

by Michael Perkins on May 12, 2010 9:20 pm • linkreport

Re: ^^^

"Retirement after 25 years of service (no minimum age) at 64%"

Let's see: get hired at age 23; work 25 years; quit/retire at age 48. WMATA then pays nearly 2/3 of highest salary* for rest of life.

Not bad. Not bad at all for an employee. But very bad news for WMATA and its budget outlook.

*WMATA pension computation is, of course, based on more complex factors than just highest salary earned; I used the phrasing above only for simplicity.

by Metro User on May 12, 2010 9:27 pm • linkreport

I don't understand why the CFO and the CSO get overtime at all. They are not hourly employees.

In general, pay is a complex subject and it is difficult to draw simple comparisons. For example, if Metro employees get step increases, you need to know not only how long it takes to get to the top, but also what are typical career paths. That is, what is the total compensation an employee such as a bus driver can make over their time at Metro. This can help expose problems.

I once did a study that compared what DC police, fire, teacher and general schedule workers who started at similar salaries made over the course of their employment. The study assumed so many years in grade and career paths. The teachers were the big winners. Their steps were smaller amounts than the others, but they reached the top of scale faster. The study did not include typical overtime.

by Carl Bergman on May 13, 2010 9:34 am • linkreport

Local 689 has to take the tin cup it's holding out to local taxpayers and turn it inward to those employees who can retire with a very nice set of benefits after 25 years.

Increasingly, this system looks like it is being run to serve its staff, not the region's commuters.

by Kyle on May 13, 2010 10:55 am • linkreport

We have to look not only at salaries, but total compensation including benefits, risks associated with the job, education required, etc.

by SJE on May 13, 2010 2:35 pm • linkreport

These salaries seem much higher than the salary advertised by DDOT for its chief engineering position (replacing Kathleen Penney as head of IPMA) of $103k-154k. http://tinyurl.com/34up648

Can we expect to recruit the visionary chief engineer that we need at DDOT with this salary package?

Ken Archer

by Ken Archer on May 13, 2010 2:50 pm • linkreport

@SJE: Metro didn't provide me with anything useful about benefits other than to say they were equivalent to about 35% of a person's salary. I didn't bother analyzing data that was obviously not useful.

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 3:09 pm • linkreport

I added a link to the article for the PDF containing the salary data I obtained from Metro.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/31302851/Wmata-Salaries-2009

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 3:14 pm • linkreport

One of the problems with all of the numbers is that they do not reflect reality. Benefit costs expensed vs incurred are a great example. Funding of the absurdly rich pension plans assume such things as an 8% return on investment ( a total fraud since the plans have never come close to half of that on a sustained basis) and other items. If you get realistic and look at the budget last year, vs. the actual costs that have led to the massive budget hole, you find that the $925,000,000 budget for employee costs is closer to $1.1 billion. http://wmata.com/about_metro/docs/FY2009_Approved_Budget.pdf
Instead of increasing fares, which will actually move commuters off of the system and back on the roads, the board of Metro, which include such management geniuses such as Marion Barry, needs to change the contracts that are killing Metro. If Metro employees were paid normal wages and benefits, a trip on Metro would cost less than $1 with plenty of money left over for more cars and buses and maintenance that would eliminate the unsafe conditions we are exposed to every day.

by Jack Adams on May 13, 2010 8:05 pm • linkreport

Marion Barry hasn't been on the board in over a year.

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 8:37 pm • linkreport

yes, Marion, as usual, got off the board before the fan got hit with the consequences of his decisions. The contracts that are killing Metro were all signed when he was on the board.

by Jack Adams on May 13, 2010 8:56 pm • linkreport

The new contract got approved just this year.

Barry was only an alternate member of the Board, not a voting member. If I recall correctly, he didn't attend many meetings and the ones I listened to where he attended he didn't seek to know much of what was going on.

Then again, it seems like you might be the kind of guy that would let facts get in the way of a good opinion.

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 9:39 pm • linkreport

The fact is that Metro is going broke because all the board members, including those who seldom attended but collected their fees, were derelict in their responsibilities. That is not an opinion, it is what the board is now dealing with and we will now all pay for their incompetence. Every one of them, including the "Mayor for life" who can stand in Freedom Plaza and call for a race war because he opposed the gay marriage bill. You may apologize for racist homophobes who also happen to run the city into the ground, but I do not.
but you seem like the kind of guy who supports fools like the current board and does not let the fact that Metro is needlessly in financial distress get in the way of your ill-informed opinions.
you may find unnecessary fare increases worthy of support, but I have better things to do with my hard earned money than to support a bloated, incompetent, unsafe and dangerous Metro system that has been handed over to the "public servants" who abuse their public every day.

by Jack Adams on May 13, 2010 9:57 pm • linkreport

Not apologizing for Barry, just saying that his influence on the board was extremely limited seeing as how he hardly ever attended and he wasn't a voting member.

Only the Maryland board members get anything in the way of "fees" to collect.

The contracts with Metro's labor unions are not directly approved by the Board, to my knowledge. Metro and the Labor unions get to appoint an arbitrator each, and then a third arbitrator is appointed by the two of them. Metro has done what it can by suing in court to force the arbitration panel to take into account its financial distress. Not quite sure whether Metro can win its case. In my opinion, 20% fare increases combined with service cuts indicates a system in financial distress. But Metro had its chance to present its case before the arbitration panel, and the panel decided to approve what it did.

I'm in agreement with you that Metro needs to get its costs under control. I'm not convinced that we could get down to a dollar per ride with money left over for new trains.

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 10:11 pm • linkreport

The use of arbitrators to decide the major expense of Metro is a function of the cowardice of the Metro board members and the MD, DC, VA governments who did not want to take the alternate route of having residents to vote on contracts, just as union members do.
The chances of the residents of the areas served by Metro approving contracts that provide for wages and benefits far greater than those enjoyed by the voters paying for them would be zero.
It is why the unions have fought every attempt to change the arbitration clauses in every major mass-transit market in the country. It is not a system commanded by God. It is a political decision, made by pols who get elected with massive contributions from unions.
Let the public vote on contracts and the era of the $100,000 bus driver who retires at a pension greater than the average wage earner in the country would be over.
Reducing Metro wages to average wages would result in an average fare of 88 cents with money left over to modernize the system.

by Jack Adams on May 13, 2010 10:34 pm • linkreport

Arbitration is required by the WMATA compact, which was approved by the Federal, state and local governments, not by the Board members. Good luck changing it.

I would love to see your math that allowed you to get to 88 cents per trip.

Did you miss the article I wrote just the other day that said there were only a handful of $100,000 bus drivers? As in less than five, out of over 2500 bus drivers.

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 11:03 pm • linkreport

Oh hai that was this article that we're commenting on.

by Michael Perkins on May 13, 2010 11:08 pm • linkreport

Using the real numbers for the cost of benefits and not the ones metro uses, which show all the pension plans to be underfunded, every bus driver but a few cost over $100,000 per year. It doesn't matter whether their costs are W-2 earnings or non-taxable, that is what they cost, and that is what we have to pay, one way or another, sooner or later, no matter how many times they raid the capital fund reserves and make Metro less safe or get a bailout from the federal treasury.
Reducing pay to market levels, eliminating overstaffing caused by ridiculous work rules and replacing insane pension plans with the kind of plans that most Americans have would cut Metro expenses enough to bring the cost of a ride to less than a dollar and leave money for capital expenses like new railcars and buses.
While many in DC who work for government also enjoy compensation far in excess of the market, the day is coming when the majority of Americans will no longer be willing to be robbed of their money to support this rotten system.

by Jack Adams on May 14, 2010 7:40 am • linkreport

If any one has ever driven in DC during rush our or special events then you know how difficult it is to get around with the cab drivers and people cutting you off imagine what the bus drivers go through. They earn every penny they make.

by Rodell on Jul 23, 2011 11:46 pm • linkreport

It's a pretty high paying bus driving job. About twice what one would make if you made the NATIONAL AVERAGE for bus drivers. Yes it's a high cost place to live, but not twice as much.

Good if you are a driver getting that pay. Bad for the taxpayers and bus riders who pay the high salary.

Regardless, it is HIGH PAY.

by David Hathaway on Jan 9, 2012 3:54 pm • linkreport

Let's just clarify a few things. One, no union employee at Metro is getting a pension of 100k. It's not happening. When you do the math, even the highest paid guys with a high four over $100k ends up with a pension around $45k to $50k. My good friend and coworker is getting about $3500/ month and he fell into the 100k high-four category. So quit with that vitriol about $100k pensions. Two, MTPD officers go through much more legal training than most officers because they must know the law of three different jurisdictions and be versed in some knowledge of how railroads are to be run as well. So they do get paid a lot because of that and it's hard to get officers to make the cut. Three, a commenter said something about cost-of-living increases after a year or so for a new hire. Where? Here at Metro? Haha. You may have the opportunity to test up to a higher grade if you're a mechanic, and there is progression for operators, but cost of living has nothing to do with that; it's a skills/ seniority thing. Just thought I'd clear that up.

by Metro Employee on Mar 1, 2012 7:54 am • linkreport

I think what they make is reasonable. If metro wants to pay there workers that and give them a good pension why not. Its no different from a federal government job. They nearly deal with what metro employees have to deal with on the regular bases. Think about it. What makes a station manager differ from a government worker sitting on there butts everyday not doing nothing. My opinion station managers are dealing with public. Governments arnt. There sitting in booth. People these days have to realize the economy is high. Everyone has himself and thier family to support. Dont hate. If u want a metro job and benefits go out there and apply. If u want a government job and bonuses. Go and apply. Be responsible for your own future but dont knock the next man for there hussle because there out there working for it.

by treice on Oct 7, 2012 12:25 pm • linkreport

After reading alot of the comments posted alot of other information was left out such as most salaries are based on 40 hour work weeks with holidays off well metro employees dont have that benefit the system is open close to 24 hours a day and how else do the ridership get to enjoy the festivities with there family mind u off with pay but u see a bus or train running to take u there? Or a station manager to answer your question? Or how about compensation for being open in all types of weather 365 days a year while you are safe and secure in your home with your family?

by give wmata a break on Jan 23, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

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