No, it's not the latest Wall Street failure. It's D.C.'s Metro public transportation system. The D.C. Examiner reports that the system is anticipating major reductions in service, a hiring freeze, and possibly layoffs. Yet salaries at all levels of Metro have increased at several times the rate of inflation.
Metro's Approved Fiscal 2009 Annual Budget includes large pay hikes for salaried management employees, as well as hourly workers such as bus drivers, rail operators and maintenance workers. But the numbers take on added significance when compared to previous years.
For example, in the section entitled "Multi-Year Operating Cost Comparison," we see that salaries for Metro managers in the Bus Services section have more than doubled since 2006. Next year, Metro's top bus executives expect to be paid twice what they made just three years ago, and this when almost every economic indicator is steadily heading south.
In 2007, an exclusive Examiner series highlighted the excessive overtime payments that pushed more than a hundred bus and rail operators into six-figure territory – almost double the median income of the Washington, D.C. area.
Meanwhile, Metro's "customers" have to contend with broken escalators, defective subway cars, increasing crime and decreasing system reliability even as they continue to pay the higher fares and parking fees imposed on them last year when most Metro employees were getting yet another raise.