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Audit: MTA's Weekend Subway Diversions Overbudget By $26M

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TWC News: Audit: MTA's Weekend Subway Diversions Overbudget By $26M
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In a new audit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's weekend subway construction projects that re-routed lines, the city and state comptrollers have found that the service disruptions brought about prolonged hassles for riders and squandered money.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and City Comptroller John Liu say of the 29 diversions audited from January of 2009 until June 2011, work started late on all but one and stopped early on 21 of the projects, resulting in $10.5 million spent on "unproductive work time."

The comptrollers also found that 15 diversions were over-budget by a total of more than $26 million.

The report also says the MTA does not adequately alert riders to service changes and that shuttle bus service was based off of old ridership figures.

"We found that the MTA is leaving subway riders in the dark," said DiNapoli. "The management of these diversions is wasteful, unproductive and taking New Yorkers down the wrong track."

"The purpose of our audit is to show the MTA that they can do much better. They can do better in managing the shutdowns and minimizing the amount of time that subway service is taken out," said Liu. "They can do a much better job of planning and budgeting for the costs of these diversions in the first place."

In response, President Thomas Prendergast of New York City Transit said the current accounting system cannot monitor the costs of each diversion, but he said the agency is working on a new system.

He also said a pilot program is in place to let management know when work is completed, so they can put lines back in service right away.

The agency is requesting more money for more signs for service changes, according to Prendergast.

Management is trying to resume service quicker when work is done and better inform riders, but straphangers had mixed feelings on the diversions.

"Not as convenient as just having the train, but yes, it was easy," said one Queens rider.

"The signs, I don't understand. They are not put in the proper places," said another.

Both Liu and DiNapoli said they were encouraged by the MTA's constructive response to their audit.

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