Metro-North Railroad Workforce Planning Model. Trade-Offs Between Straight Time, Overtime, and Lost Revenue

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, organisation - workforce planning


commuter rail, fares, revenue, ticket collectors, staff costs


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Metro-North Railroad, which serves 120 stations located in New York and Connecticut, is considered by many to be the nation's premier regional railroad. In 2012, Metro-North provided service to 83 million people, with an on-time record of 97.6%. Like many U. S. commuter railroads, Metro-North uses manual, onboard visual inspection methods to collect fares or to verify that a valid, time-based ticket is held by a customer. If not enough personnel are available to perform these functions, revenue can be lost. If an engineer or conductor assignment is vacant, train service is annulled. Engineers and conductors thus are assigned at levels at which this possibility rarely, if ever, occurs. The cost of insufficient ticket collectors on board depends on the presumed revenue loss, should a specific assignment remain unfilled, because this insufficiency results in fares that are not collected or verified. Metro-North had found it increasingly difficult to staff all ticket collector assignments each day as a result of fluctuating staff absentee levels and unscheduled work. To hire more staff is one way to reduce overtime and fill assignments, but doing so results in a rise in costs in wages and benefits. To address these trade-offs and the associated potential revenue loss, Metro-North built a workforce planning model to determine the optimal number of engineers, conductors, and especially ticket collectors. The model takes into account numerous supply, demand, and cost variables and then determines the most cost-effective solution.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.