Subway agency offers incentives for retirees to come back to plug staffing holes

The New York subway system is so short on staff that in August through September roughly 8-10% of rush-hour trains were canceled — an unusually high rate caused by the pandemic.

"We acknowledge that we lost a lot of crews. We're doing everything to bring them back," says Demetrius Crichlow, the Senior Vice President for Subways, NYCT. "We’re incentivizing folks to come to work, giving back paid back vacation time."

More than 66,000 people are employed by the MTA and roughly 5,000 left since the start of the pandemic and now officials are offering those retirees who left in the last three years up to $35,000 for three months of work.

The MTA is pushing for another round of emergency federal aid, but the agency hopes these incentives will help bridge the gap until that money comes through.

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"We're looking to see if we can bring back some of our experienced train operators and conductors," adds Crichlow. "To bolster up our crews."

The incentive program was rolled out last week and 700 letters were sent to retired MTA employees in order to lure them back to work.

There's also an upcoming deadline for employees to prove their vaccination status or comply with weekly testing in order to work. According to the New York Daily News, almost 60% of MTA workers have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine—at least 171 workers have died of COVID-19.