SFMTA trims overtime costs by 13 percent

Efforts to reduce overtime spending at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency seemed to work last year.

The annual overtime report by the City Controller’s Office said the transit agency spent $48 million in overtime costs during the 2012-2013 fiscal year — a 13 percent decrease from 2011-2012.

Despite the reduction, the transit agency still topped the list in overtime spending last year compared to other city departments. Following the SFMTA, the City’s Fire Department spent $43 million in overtime — an 10-year high for the department, said the report.

The transit agency did spend $5 million more than what was originally budgeted for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, but it was still lower than the $18 million in overruns from the 2011-2012 budget.

The SFMTA’s transit division continues to drive overtime costs. The report said 63 percent of overtime use was from Muni operators followed by maintenance workers, which accounted for 23 percent of the overtime hours.

Last year, the SFMTA budget included the hiring of more mechanics, which led to the reduction in overtime use last year.

Special events, the San Francisco Giants World Series win in 2012, and losing operators to attrition all played a role in the transit agency’s use of overtime last fiscal year, said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.

The transit agency also said in the report that the length of Muni routes, operators shortages, labor contract provisions, unscheduled absences by operators and unforeseen events like accidents and heavy traffic contribute to overtime use.

Rose said the transit agency is working on hiring more operators. He said the SFMTA hired 14 new trainers to help speed up the process:

“We’ll continue efforts to hire more operators and exploring ways to continue to reduce overtime going forward.”

The Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin also said earlier this month that a plan was in place to increase staffing in the training division over the next 18 months.

Overtime spending for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, show the transit agency projected to spend $54 million. The transit agency had budgeted for $37 million.

The 2013-2014 fiscal year did include America’s Cup events and the BART strike. The transit agency spent $700,000 during the BART strike because of expanded service.