Even though an NYCT report (below) insists that "despite the omissions and deficiencies identified in DS, the signal system is safe," NYCT head Thomas Prendergast admit that false reporting still exists, and up to 90% of current signal workers could be involved. At a two hour grill-session before the City Council yesterday, NYCT heads admitted they were unsure of just how many signal reports were faked over the past decade. But Prendergast said the problem is deeper than just a few lazy workers: "It's a failure of senior management. It's not a failure of any employees. You've got a culture problem."

The report found that "the most probable underlying reason for falsifications was the perception held by supervisors and hourly employees that management was exerting undue pressure on them to increase productivity." Workers say they were pressured to submit more inspection reports than they could get done in a typical work day, and that the "culture of the company for decades has been to force workers to sign off on an inspection if that inspection has not been performed."One retired signal worker said new employees were especially susceptible, because they "were afraid of retaliation if they didn't go along." Thankfully, no accidents seem to have been caused by malfunctioning signals, but countless delays could have happened because the system is designed to automatically brake trains if something is wrong with a signal.

Prendergast also blames a depleted workforce for the problems, saying that the 1,600 workers now qualified to inspect signals is just not enough. And even if they are all guilty of report falsification, firing them would "create a state or conditions that are far greater risk to the public." Bronx Councilman James Vacca said at the meeting, "There's got to be accountability in the future. And the accountability has to be a way for us to access what inspections were done and when they were done and who did the inspection." And once that happens they'll all get a stern talking to before they return to work.

Smtf Final Report