The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, plays a vital role in providing transportation in Downstate New York and Connecticut, serving more than 8 million riders daily in 2017. MTA jobs are lucrative, too, which should come as no surprise considering the importance of the entity in the economy of New York, with millions relying on the MTA to get to and from work.
What Is the MTA?
We’ve come a long way from the stagecoach days when getting from one city to the next often meant traveling with the mail. Cities on the Eastern seaboard of the United States are connected by rail lines, and even within major metropolitan areas like New York City or Washington, D.C., train services are provided to help passengers get from their starting point to their destination. The MTA provides just this type of service, connecting riders in the New York Metropolitan Area to various sites in the most populous urban conurbation in the United States.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, is a public benefit corporation, which means that it is almost a private entity, except that it has a board of directors appointed by elected officials. This allows the MTA to meet the needs of the large urban population in the New York Metropolitan Area while being exempt from some regulations that other public agencies may be subject to. This also allows the MTA to supervise or run both public and private entities, like the New York City Subway System.
The MTA’s status as a public benefit corporation is critical to the essential function performs, as it allows this entity to meet the financial demands of a network that requires repairs, updates, or expansion, without the constraints of budget cuts or other economic restrictions. Public benefit corporations are allowed to acquire debt apart from state debt thus bypassing debts limits set out in the Constitution of the State of New York. As construction costs in the Downstate New York region are often higher than in other parts of the country, this allows the MTA to service its ridership and continue to expand.
MTA jobs have become an attractive option for men and women in the Tri-State Area because the MTA offers so many opportunities for workers of different backgrounds to find employment. Also, because this public benefit corporation is not subject to state salary caps or budget restrictions, salaries are often significantly higher than they are in similar positions in public agencies. In fact, it was estimated that in 2014, 25% of MTA workers earned more than $100,000 per year, which is impressive, even for this part of the country.
Of course, the next logical question is what is it precisely that workers at the MTA do. The answer is pretty much anything. MTA workers are involved in running the trains of the New York subway lines and Metro-North and the Long Island Railroad. Workers are involved in repair and construction, there are attorneys and paralegals involved in legal affairs, and there are supervisors and agency heads involved in various managerial roles. There are even police officers, with the MTA Police Department having the highest average salary of the agency at over $135,000 per year.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is wide in its scope, serving as the largest public transportation authority in the United States. The MTA was founded as a result of various mergers and transfers of authority, which began in 1965 when then Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, suggested the creation of an authority to take over the bankrupt Long Island Rail Road. The resulting authority acquired other lines, including the New Haven Line, which ran to New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
At present, the MTA operates not only New York City’s buses and subways but several other functions in the New York Metropolitan Area, including commuter rails and tolls. The MTA is currently divided into the following subsidiary and affiliated agencies:
MTA Regional Bus Operations, or MTA Bus
MTA Staten Island Railway (SIR)
MTA Capital Construction (MTACC)
MTA Bridges and Tunnels (MTA B&T)
MTA New York City Transit (NYCT)
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is governed by a board, consisting of members representing the various areas it serves in New York. The seventeen members of the board are nominated by the Governor of New York, New York’s mayor, and the county executives of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam counties. Of the seventeen members of the board, 14 members are voting members, with the remaining three members casting their vote together with a fourth member. Nominations are confirmed by the New York State Senate.
The MTA has a large number of vehicles that it operates in order to provide its services. It is estimated that the MTA operates a fleet of the following size:
6418 subway cars
2429 commuter rail cars
63 Staten Island Railway rail cars
Types of Positions and Qualifications
It should come as no surprise that an organization is significant in its geographic area as the MTA would offer a host of job opportunities. As a quick run-down of the scale of this organization, in addition to serving 12 counties in New York State, the MTA is estimated to have 8.6 million daily riders, annual ridership of over 2 billion, and to carry 850,000 vehicles daily. Workers operate 26 subway lines, 15 commuter rail lines, and over 300 bus routes, providing many MTA jobs to various workers required to operate such a large and complex network.
Although we will delve more deeply into salary in a minute, MTA jobs are known to be on the lucrative sides. Naturally, there are many different types of jobs at the MTA. Though many positions in the organization will involve bus or train operator roles, there are many other positions available, as the MTA uses many analysts, managers, interns, and others. Although it is a daunting task to list all the positions in the MTA, below is a list of some major roles for which the MTA has openings:
Qualifications will vary based on position. The above list should indicate how variable the positions are and how many different types of educational backgrounds can lead to a career with the MTA. As an example, the position of train or rail operator typically requires a high school diploma or GED. Training is obtained while on the job and can last six months or more. Training may require time in the classroom as well as on-the-job training on the train. Typical job duties for a train conductor include:
Many train operators may be asked or required to obtain advanced engineering training after several years on the job to qualify them for higher rungs of employment, or to accommodate for the retirement of other professionals holding MTA jobs. Workers in this role typically have a period of probation, which can vary depending on where one works within the MTA.
Train and bus operators represent just one subset of the work available at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. There are also many different types of engineers employed by the MTA. The basic requirement for an engineering job is a bachelor’s degree, though engineers with advanced roles may be required to have a master’s degree. In some positions, additional experience or specialized training may replace the educational requirement.
MTA Jobs, Salary, and More
The average salary for an employee at the MTA was $81,000 in 2014, which is higher than what train conductors and operators made nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, it is important to note that the average salary listed above is for all MTA jobs, not just individuals involved directly in transportation operation. Other positions in the MTA earned significantly above the average salary across the agency. Workers in the police department averaged $135,598, while Long Island Rail Road workers averaged $106,000.
One of the draws at the MTA was the significant amount of overtime workers at MTA jobs pulled in. According to data from 2014, sixty-five employees made more than $100,000 in overtime in that year, many of them in administrative roles.
As workers in an industry that will not be going anywhere anytime soon, employees of the MTA can look forward to not only career stability but a salary that is well above what workers in similar roles make elsewhere. With many affiliates and departments to choose from, the MTA has a lot to offer to men and women considering MTA jobs.