The NYC subway is so desperate for staff that it's reportedly offering retired train operators up to $35,000 for 90 days of work

The NYC subway is so desperate for staff that it's reportedly offering retired train operators up to $35,000 for 90 days of work
·2 min read
mta new york city subway conductor
The MTA is pushing for another round of emergency federal aid to fund its subways, buses, and commuter trains. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
  • The New York subway system is suffering from a severe shortage of personnel.

  • More than one in 10 rush hour trains were cancelled in August - the worst rate since at least 2015.

  • Transit officials are offering retired train operators up to $35,000 to work for three months, per the NY Daily News.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Part of the US labor market's difficulties can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic motivating older workers to retire earlier than planned.

At the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which employs more than 66,000 people, that rush to the exits has left the agency with about 5,000 fewer workers since the start of the pandemic, the New York Daily News reported.

Of those 5,000 retirees, about one in five were in subway services, and that has led to severe complications for the transit system. In August more than 10% of rush-hour trains were cancelled, the worst performance since at least 2015.

Now transit officials are offering a sizable pay package to attract retired train operators who have left the MTA in the last three years, according to a letter obtained by the Daily News.

In January 2019, there were 3,598 train operators, according to data reported by TheCity.nyc, but that figure had dropped 11.5% to 3,182 as of February 2021.

"New York City Transit has a critical and urgent need for fully trained and qualified train operators," an MTA human resources officer wrote in the letter. "If you choose to apply and are accepted, you will be temporarily appointed by NYC Transit for a period not exceeding 90 days and your gross earnings, which are not pensionable, may not exceed $35,000."

The average NYC Transit worker earned annual compensation of $75,891 in 2015, according to a report from the city's budget office.

An additional challenge facing the system is an upcoming deadline for employees to prove their vaccination status or submit to weekly testing in order to continue working.

The Daily News previously reported that 58% of MTA workers have gotten at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, but union representatives say that many unvaccinated members would quit their jobs instead of get inoculated. At least 171 workers have died of COVID-19.

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