According to a report released yesterday, the MTA confirmed that many workers failed to perform important signal tests and subsequently lied about it on official records. It also confirmed that subway managers failed to monitor the workers, and may have even encouraged workers to file false forms in order to meet quotas. The MTA still insists the system is safe, but apparently our nonstop need for timely transportation is too much for the workers to handle!
New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast suggested that some of the inspections "take a long time to set up," and workers cut corners because they knew they couldn't complete the work in the allotted time, But other MTA officials also suspect that it wasn't the difficulty of the work keeping workers from filing the reports, but that the signal system is too good. Trains are mechanically blocked from running red signals, and the signals are designed to turn red automatically if there is a malfunction. "I think the fact that we have this fail-safe system in signals has led to some complacency in terms of the rigor of this maintenance process," said MTA Board Member Doreen Frasca.
The MTA is planning a massive overhaul with the way they run signal inspections, which could include the subway lines being shut down "starting after five or six o'clock at night," says Prendergast. "We want to minimize the impact on the customers as much as possible, but we want to provide really, really large blocks of time for the gangs of employees to be able to do the work." They also want to implement a new computer system to track signal reports, but that would cost money, which the MTA doesn't really have. We'll just have to be satisfied with trusting the MTA for now.