1010 WINS: Council Members Upset Over MTA Testimony on False Reports
By Stan Brooks
January 6, 2011
In the wake of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s revelation that reports on signal inspections were falsified over the past decade, Transit officials are now testifying about the workflow and council members are still angry.
Councilman Jessica Lappin exploded in disbelief as Transit President Tom Prendergast testified that over 90 percent of the signal inspectors have routinely falsified reports over the last decade.
“I have steam coming out of my ears. Because I’m sitting here hearing that maintainers and managers have falsified reports,” Lappin said. “They have betrayed the public trust. They have put millions of lives at risk every day, but nothing happened.”
Lappin is even more furious that no one had been fired.
“And even though they lied, they’re good at their jobs so we’re gonna keep them,” she said.
Prendergast assured the committee that no lives were not in danger because a failsafe system would shut the operations down if a signal did not work.
The MTA report released in November said there had been a rush to get crucial safety checks done on the subway, but investigators said the reports were either made up, delayed or skipped altogether.
The report said a dramatic increase in safety checks following the 2009 rear-end train collision in the Washington, D.C. subway system simply overwhelmed the inspectors.
The D.C. collision killed nine people.
Here in New York, equipment that was supposed to be inspected every 30 days was not being checked until days or even weeks later, if at all. The line most was risk was the L line, whose trains are operated robotically with fewer fail-safes in place.
The MTA said in a November statement that it has “changed the leadership of the signals division and took swift action to ensure that none of these deficiencies undermined the signal systems’ safe operation or its underlying components.”
The swift action by the MTA included the demotion of signal department supervisor Tracy Bowdwin and the questioning of others, sources said.
Falsifying an MTA report is a felony offense.