Finally, the NYC and NY State Comptrollers have released an audit that confirms what everyone sadly believes: The MTA's service disruptions are "wasteful and unproductive" for subway riders, as signs for service changes are totally confusing and the crews performing service work aren't really working as much as the auditors found.

According to NYC Comptroller John Liu and NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, NYC Transit’s "budget for advertising diversions is woefully inadequate and Transit management failed to notify riders of diversions consistently or effectively. In 2010, its budget for informing its 2.3 billion annual riders of service diversions was $228,000. In comparison, the Long Island Rail Road, with 81.9 million annual commuters, spent $742,432 to notify its riders of service diversions that year." And here are some factoids:

In June and July 2010, auditors visited 39 stations that were affected by diversions. They found:
- No more than 20 signs at any station, despite Transit’s claim of posting 50 on each platform;
- No signs in any language besides English at all 39 stations, despite Transit’s policy;
- One sign in each of 10 stations on the 1 and 2 lines, but no signs at street level, in cars or on platforms;
- Only two of 13 Americans with Disabilities Act stations checked had signs in elevators, despite Transit’s policy;
- Transit’s only written policy for informing riders of diversions consists of newspaper advertisements, which are required to run for all diversions. Newspaper ads were only created for two of 50 sampled diversions (Fulton Street Station and World Trade Center E line).

And then there's the actual service work. Yes, service work does need to be scheduled on weekends or late nights since the 107-year-old subway system runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but when entire lines are being rerouted or shut down, you'd think that work would begin on time. The audit found, "When asked for the General Order Worksheets that track time spent on each diversion, Transit management could only provide auditors with 29 of the 50. Of those 29 diversions, work started late on 28 and stopped early on 21. Unproductive work time ate up anywhere from 10 to 27 percent of the time trains were diverted, though there was no cost mitigation. Transit management wasted an estimated $10.5 million in this manner over the 3,332 diversions in a sample period from January 1, 2009 and July 14, 2010."

Further, the audit claims the disruptions' budgets are being mismanaged, finding, "The Comptrollers reviewed 15 diversions covered by 12 contracts budgeted at $141.7 million. Four of these contracts went over budget by a combined $26.6 million and cost a total of $83.1 million. The MTA’s financial constraints demand that Transit properly monitor costs during diversions and keep them within budget." Some of Liu's and DiNapoli's recommendations are "Reevaluate its budget for alerting the riding public about planned subway service changes due to diversions" and "Ensure that diversions adhere to scheduled start and end times for service diversions and restore normal subway service as soon as possible after diversion work is completed."

NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast admitted there is "inherent inefficiency" in the system, but pointed out that some shutdowns are unavoidable, "We make every effort to minimize customer inconvenience by coordinating work, performing multiple jobs in the same area so that we do not have to go back again."