Non-Revenue Service Vehicles and On-Rail Equipment

Issued Date
May 03, 2023
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road


To determine whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) maintains an inventory and consistently retires/disposes of its non-revenue service Highway Fleet Vehicles, and whether LIRR performs preventive maintenance on these vehicles and on-rail equipment and maintains an accurate inventory of parts required to repair the on-rail equipment. This audit covered the period from January 2018 to April 2022.


The MTA is responsible for developing and implementing a unified mass transportation policy for New York City and Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. MTA carries out these responsibilities directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates, including LIRR. LIRR is comprised of over 700 miles of track on 11 different branches and extends from four major NYC terminals – Penn Station, Grand Central Madison, Atlantic Terminal, and Hunters Point Avenue – through a major transfer hub at Jamaica to the easternmost tip of Long Island.

In support of LIRR’s mission, the Engineering Department (Engineering) is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of LIRR’s entire physical plant, excluding rolling stock. Vehicle Fleet Operations (VFO) and the Track Department (Track) are two of the nine subdivisions of Engineering.

VFO is responsible for the overall administration of fleet vehicles, including design, specifications, purchasing, coordination of maintenance through third-party vendors, fueling, and relinquishment. During the period from January 1, 2018 through March 8, 2021, VFO was responsible for an inventory of 1,034 active vehicles used by 26 LIRR departments and disposed of 282 vehicles. According to the LIRR Office of Management and Budget, VFO spent almost $25 million on vehicle purchases and nearly $16 million on vehicle repairs for the three years ended December 31, 2020. VFO has a maintenance contract with a vendor that schedules the preventive maintenance (PM) and repairs for the fleet, keeps the maintenance records, and coordinates billing with local independent mechanic shops.

Track is responsible for the maintenance of 243 pieces of on-rail equipment, with an estimated cost of almost $57 million as of March 15, 2022. LIRR committed $55 million in the 2020-24 Capital Program to construction equipment and geometry cars. Track has a maintenance shop at the Hillside Support Facility (HSF) that provides both maintenance and repair services for its on-rail non-revenue service equipment. The Maintenance of Way Materials (MofW) unit maintains a warehouse at HSF to supply parts needed to perform maintenance and as-needed repairs on the on-rail equipment and also maintains a Parts Inventory listing. Maintenance work is done by Track’s 28 in-house mechanics at HSF and on-site in the field.

Key Findings

VFO does not have written policies or procedures for maintaining its vehicle fleet inventory or performing vehicle maintenance. While it indicates it has undocumented practices for both, VFO is not in compliance with either of these practices. In addition, VFO did not always complete PM or the required New York State inspections. The 76 sampled vehicles required 343 PM services. We found 90 were done late and 28 were not done. For the 3-year period reviewed, 135 NYS inspections were required. Of these, 42 were late (ranging from 3 days to 167 days) and four were not done.

Track officials could not document the maintenance done on the 30 pieces of equipment, valued at $13.3 million, we sampled from January 2018 to May 2021. Additionally, 18 pieces of equipment had 768 service tickets; however, for six of the pieces, none of the service tickets were for PM. Further, only 178 of the 768 tickets documented maintenance as specified in the manual or the description on the service tickets.

The lack of regular PM increases the risk of emergency and/or unscheduled repairs, and the absence of reports or data on the performance and maintenance of equipment may negatively impact the decisions made on its use, care, and replacement.

LIRR’s Corporate Policy and Procedure outlines the process for replacement of or additions to the highway vehicle fleet. We reviewed the forms and cost-benefit analyses for the 20 leased vehicles in our sample to determine whether VFO followed the policies and procedures. All 20 of the vehicles in our sample were requested using the form; however, none of the forms were fully completed.

VFO leases about 29% of its non-revenue service vehicles; however, it did not always complete a cost-benefit analysis of leasing compared to purchasing the vehicle on a timely basis or at all. Additionally, VFO sometimes extended the lease beyond the initial period. We reviewed the invoice payments for the 20 leased vehicles in our sample and found five vehicles with multiple purchase order numbers associated with the invoice payments. This represents an extension of the lease either due to the renewal of a contract or a request for additional funding to continue the lease with the current vendor. For the five vehicles, three had two lease extensions and two had one extension. One of the five vehicles was leased for a total of 58 months, costing LIRR $312,666, or $81,000 more than the vehicle’s purchase price.

Key Recommendations

  • Verify that all required documents, such as vehicle title, are included in the hard-copy folder and ensure that documentation is periodically confirmed.
  • Revisit procedures to ensure a complete cost-benefit analysis occurs on a timely basis.
  • Develop and implement a procedure for visiting shops based on the nature of the repair, which at a minimum requires reporting on the vehicles examined and the expectation for their return to service – and document the visit.

Carmen Maldonado

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236