A New York Times report found that some workers hired to build NYC subways were paid $111 per hour

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second avenue subway NYCFlickr/MTASome workers were paid $111 per hour to work on NYC subway construction projects.

  • A New York Times report found that NYC transit projects cost far more than in comparable cities throughout the world.
  • The costs result from generous compensation for workers and high costs from contractors.
  • The report found that unions and contractors donated millions to political campaigns, including those involving New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The New York City subway system has come under fire for being unreliable as maintenance funding is cut or diverted for other uses.

But a recent report from the New York Times revealed that, despite the decreasing levels of maintenance funding, subway construction projects in New York are often significantly more expensive than in other major cities throughout the world.

A project connecting the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal, for example, cost $3.5 billion for every new mile of track, which was seven times more than the worldwide average. The report found that projects were routinely overstaffed and overpriced as labor unions and contractors profited at the city's expense.

The Times found that one union ensured most of its workers were paid $111 per hour in salary and benefits. And in some cases, construction projects in New York were staffed by up to four times more workers than for similar projects in Asia, Australia, and Europe.

According to the report, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that the city has unique conditions that require inflated costs, but the Times found that those claims may have been exaggerated after interviewing over 50 contractors and analyzing MTA projects and pricing data.

According to the Times, labor unions and contractors were able to negotiate labor prices without input from any New York City agencies and frequently gave campaign donations to political campaigns - including those involving New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo - and hired MTA employees. And since contractors who could perform underground construction projects didn't have much competition, they could reportedly add almost 50% to their projected costs when bidding for projects, compared to an average of 10% in other countries, according to the Times.

All of this means that New York City's subway system may need more fixing than we previously thought.

The MTA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
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