Why the subway custodian probably makes more than the rookie cop patrolling that station

The subject is subway security. You’d think that NYC would want to have the best officers possible. I’m not saying we don’t, but it certainly isn’t easy to attract them. Why?

Well, as a rookie officer, you’re looking at $38,000 a year. That’s it. So right out of the gate you are limiting yourself in terms of recruiting because there’s not many people who would be willing to only make $38k a year.

This is all nothing new. No breaking news. However, this all made me wonder how much MTA Employees make.

Yesterday, we ran a little poll to see what people thought plumbers, custodians, painters, etc should make on an annual basis. The results show that 75% of our readers think these positions should make less than $45,000 a year.

How much do these MTA/NYC Transit workers actually make? Surprisingly, that basic info is available online. The MTA posts it’s open jobs with salary ranges right on their website. Here’s some highlights.

There’s an opening for Manager of the 7 line. That must be a popular gig these days. Salary: $124,800 – $208,500.

Telephone Maintainer: $52,000 (plus night & weekend bonus)
Plumber: $52,000 (plus night & weekend bonus)
Structure Maintainer (aka Painter): $52,000
Manager, Car Accident Investigation and Testing: $60,700 – $95,900
Administrative Associate: $48,000
Customer Service Rep: $53,000

I especially loved this one:

Transit Customer Service Specialist

$40,558 – $59,227

Responsibilities: The selected candidate will coordinate between the scanning contractor and NYCT; ensure files are prepared for scanning and review microfilm for quality control. Enter appropriate information into the NYC Transit Automated Records Management System in compliance with NYCT Retention policy. Work with Law Department and Storage Retention personnel on file removal procedures, schedule removal of files to Livonia storage facility. Candidate is required to lift, move and arrange boxes containing a variety of materials, documents and/or supplies.

So almost $60k to scan shit and move around some boxes.

While it’s not subway related, did you ever wonder how much the conductors make on Metro-North or LIRR? An Assistant Conductor makes $62,000. These are the guys that walk around with the hole punchers and take your tickets. That’s worth $62,000.

Ok, I’m not saying that these people do not deserve what they are making, and I’m not saying they don’t deserve to make a good living. However, this begs the question: Are our priorities straight?

Every year you hear how the state is again battling the TWU, that wants another raise, better benefits, etc etc. Yet, the NYPD and FDNY make crap.

We’ve got people that risk their lives daily making less than $40,000 a year, yet unskilled labor with the MTA makes well over $50,000.

Offering only $38,000 to “attract” rookie cops? What could the quality of those new cops possibly be? I mean, clearly there are excellent officers on the force. But don’t you think you would attract better, more qualified applicants if you offered $60,000?

Just look at commercial business. If a brokerage firm wants to recruit the best brokers, they offer the best salaries. If you want the best lawyers, you better be ready to cough up some cash. Pick just about any business. The most valuable people in that organization are probably the ones making them most money. So if you wanted the best officers, you probably need to pay them.

Overall, priorities are clearly out of control.

18 thoughts on “Why the subway custodian probably makes more than the rookie cop patrolling that station

  1. I agree with you NYPD & NYFD deserve raises. The Police Union has pointed out that cops in Long Island make 90,000 a year, Port Authority cops earn about the same as that. Newark New Jersey, doesn’t have a fraction of the wealth of NYC, and thier Police make thousands more than NYC Police. If they want Officers to live in the city they should pay them enough to cover the cost of housing at least.
    Firefighters the same ones that every politicians


  2. Sorry,
    Called HEROES after 9/11, Got screwed on raises as well. These are the same people we will be calling on to risk thier lives again when the next attack comes. Pay them now so they can enjoy it with thier families, they may not be around later.


  3. Maybe the problem is even though it’s illegal for MTA employees to strike, the administration was perfectly willing to negotiate while they were on strike and then got the city to eliminate the fines imposed for striking.


  4. Im sorry…they’re (mta) are earning what? Wow. Um…ok. Lets talk. Now like i said a while ago, I do believe that the workers of the MTA are recieving unfair attraction (sometimes), but still…$124,800 – $208,500? It just doesnt make any since. Why/ How are they making this much? My mom works in the medical field as a Nurses Assistant and doesnt earn anywhere NEAR this amount and surely deserves it because the work she does…you really cant imagine. The MTA needs to revamp this. Now im not saying take these guys and make ’em poor/broke, but the MTA should re-consider their payroll.


  5. No wonder they need a fare increase.

    I think the NYPD and FDNY should charge the MTA for their numerous responses into the subways. Then maybe the NYPD and FDNY could afford raises.


  6. Sorry, this is a bullshit comparision. If you don’t think that the MTA custodians are making too little, why are you criticizing the TWU or the MTA at all?

    If your point is that the rookie cop should be making more, why aren’t you criticizing the NYPD and the PBA?

    Assume that Lee Sander read this today and said, “You know what? He’s right. Screw the contract, every custodian gets $38,000,” and somehow avoids a major lawsuit or strike. He saves a bundle of money. How is that going to enable the NYPD to pay rookie cops more? The MTA is going to write a check to the city?

    I would not want to spend my days underground scraping gum off of subway platforms while trains go by. Or cleaning up vomit, shit, pee, semen, you name it. And then live in whatever crappy apartment you can afford for $38K? No, these people deserve at least $50K, so leave them alone.

    If you want a better comparison, I’m sure you can find out what city custodians make. What about the guy who sweeps the floor in the NYPD transit bureau offices?


  7. Avi: The fines were not eliminated, TWU was fined $1,000,000.00 per day and the workers paid a days pay for every day they were on strike in fines.
    Emprice: The $124,800 – $208,500 salary is for a management position, and I agree it does sound high. I also agree, Nurses and EMT’s are generaly paid the same all over the country, and do not make enough to live well in an expensive city like New York.
    NYCWD: I don’t know what arrangement NYPD or NYFD have with MTA.


  8. Tom: Yes perhaps the workers for the MTA in the management positions have a natural call for a higher pay, i just think that it should be within an amount thats reasonable.(Though whats considered reasonable to some is another thing to others.) Im just saying that with all of the extravagant money going around,(say an extra $12,000)maybe the MTA could use the money for something much better. (For example, cleaning up W. 4th street station.);-)


  9. Todd, I don’t believe my position has changed, or that I “turned a corner”, but the nice guy comment coming from someone who once called me retarded is nice.
    Winning the hearts and minds of New York City Straphangers one at a time, 6,999,999 to go! I better get some sleep.


  10. Has anyone here ever actually taken a Metro-North train? Let me just say what everyone else is thinking — the conductors (yes, those making 62,000 salaries) can barely speaking English. I’d be surprised if their IQs reached into the double digits. I’ve taken Metro-North from CT into NYC almost everyday for a decade, and have an issue with these people at least once a week. Over the years, I’ve seen them hurl racist comments at passengers, physically assault passengers, scream, blatantly be intoxicated, and just generally conduct themselves unprofessionally. Good luck trying to report this behavior, however. Call Metro-North and customer service will laugh at you – they sure laughed at me (a customer who has spent tens of thousands of dollars riding their railroad.) These people are high school drop-outs who behave disgustingly — and, as I come to find out, get payed very nicely for it.


  11. Oh my. Where do we start first. Let’s see….. I see NYPD starting salaries compared to MTA top pay salaries. Apples and Oranges. Anybody know how much overtime a police officer gets? Maybe I’m biased being that I am an MTA employee, but the public just does not realize or even consider that a telephone maintainer,signal maintainer,ect…puts his life on the line almost everyday so the riders can have a safer ride. Working in the tunnels and being on the tracks is perhaps as dangerous as any NYPD job. You can’t stop the train with a gun. As for some of those rediculous salaries in management, I would have to agree that they are grossly overpaid.


  12. @ Darryl, You are either kidding or really blind to the true meaning of danger. Besides the fact that you are commenting on a post that is over a year old, do you realize the greatest danger that MTA employees face are OTHER MTA employees who do not do their job?

    You can’t put a level of danger comparison on the two jobs, so don’t try to.


  13. I’m an EMT with the FDNY, making $28,000 a year. I put my life and well-being on the line every day to help the sick and injured of this city and also have to clean up “vomit, shit, pee, semen, you name it. And then live in whatever crappy apartment (I) can afford for…” $10k less than an MTA custodian. Fuck this shit, I’m going to ride a nice, clean, scenic Metro North train with a bar car and punch people’s tickets for more than twice the money. Thank you bloggers, I owe you.


  14. @Zach: Cant say I blame you. It is a shame that someone such as yourself is willing to earn tons of extra training in order to perform your job with skill. Yet, completely skill-less jobs such as ticket punchers make more.

    Not to knock ticket punchers. They deserve to make as much as employers are willing to pay them.

    People going to work with the FDYN do so knowing they aren’t going to be millionairs. They know they arent going to be rich one day. That’s fine. But I think their wage should at least offer some sort of dignity.


  15. 62,000 a year? How do you even live on that? Are you going to complain that teachers make 85-90 grand a year and get summers off? Are you going to complain that sales people that do repeat orders and play golf 2 days out of the week are making way over $100k. How about the CRANE operator making $50 bucks an hour. I guess I should not tell you about the PSE&G linesman or Union electricians make. $62,000 is nothing for this area. I have a desk job making 98k, and my bonus is 10k every Christmas. So, when I look at the workers making 62k a year…… I wouldn’t want to do their job for 70k.


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