Updated: Wednesday, 24 Apr 2013, 9:23 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013, 10:16 AM EST
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A review by the Authorities Budget Office of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is out with recommendations to make the NFTA more efficient. The ABO report finds that as many as 165 employees, over 10 percent of the total, perform functions that need not be performed by staff of the authority to meet its mission.
According to the ABO report, "We believe that NFTA could reduce its annual $10.8 million security costs if it relied on local law enforcement agencies for its police functions. NFTA could save up to $5.1 million annually if it opted to use its own safety and security staff only at the airports, and rely on local police agencies for law enforcement of the public transit system."
The ABO report looked at the NFTA Police, which says about 85 police officers are deployed at the airports and throughout the transit system at a cost of about $10.8 million annually. ABO found that other upstate transportation authorities do not employ their own police officers, but instead rely upon municipal law enforcement agencies.
The report found that NFTA police responded to over 30,000 calls but that the most common violation is a failure to pay a fare. Both NFTA police and ticket inspectors can write fair evasion violations but the 5 employed ticket inspectors wrote 2,600 fines while police only wrote 1,240 which also included violations such as speeding and parking tickets.
The ABO report also recommends the NFTA reevaluate the need for authority employees to perform certain functions such as safety and security and janitorial services, and continue to reduce or eliminate the number of low performing bus routes and bus trips. Click here to see which routes the ABO recommend are eliminated or reduced.
In total, the ABO summarized their recommendations into 13 main points which they released in their report today . Click here to read the entire report along with the NFTA's response . Their recommendations are summarized below.
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In addition to recommending elimination or reduction of routes and reevaluating the NFTA police force and other employee functions, the report recommends increasing the cost of the college student discount fare. The report indicates that an increase from $30 to $44 for a monthly college student pass could yield additional revenue of $715,000.
The ABO also recommends either completely eliminating the "free fare" above-ground zone of the Metro rail downtown or that the NFTA try to obtain subsidies from businesses that benefit from the zone.
The ABO studied the NFTA's three main pieces of property, including the bus station on Ellicott St. in Buffalo, the Niagara Falls Transportation Center and the Portage Road Transit Center, also in Niagara Falls.
The report concluded that the operating costs of the three properties far exceeded revenues. Leases from bus companies that utilize docking bays at the Buffalo location pay varying amounts that the report could not determine the reason for. Three different bus companies paid a range from $15,000 to $25,000 for use of a single docking bay.
Some vendors that operate in the properties were found to have not paid revenues to the NFTA in over a year and are in breach of their contracts by not operating at all. The only revenues the NFTA receives from the two transit centers in Niagara Falls are from vending machines and food services but they have only received less than $150 from the two locations. The NFTA says they issued request for proposals for concession agreements but the current vendors were the only proposals they received.
The final recommendations of the ABO involve the re-hiring of retired NFTA employees who were re-hired on a part-time basis. The report concluded that some of these individuals were re-hired without written job descriptions and were performing duties that other full-time NFTA employees were conducting.
One retired individual was the Director of Labor Relations who retired in 2002. The NFTA retained the employee on a part-time basis to assist with negotiation of union contracts. The part-time employee was paid through December of 2010 although the Director of Labor Relations position was filled in January 2006.
The NFTA responded to the Authorities Budget Office's finding. Click here to read their official response which begins on page 18 of the attached document.