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MTA bus driver and union rep skipped out on scheduled overtime, investigators say

An MTA bus driver and union official retired this spring amid an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General into allegations of overtime abuse, the Daily News has learned.

Richard Thorne, a bus driver serving as the Transport Workers Union chairman for the Flatbush Bus Depot, was observed showing up late or not at all for pre-scheduled overtime shifts seven out of the 10 times he was surveilled between 2022 and 2023.

Thorne, a bus driver for NYC Transit since 1999, had been on release as the union’s top official at the depot for roughly 14 years. Like other union chairman in the bus division, Thorne was entitled by contract to three hours of overtime work before the start of his daily shift — primarily to move buses around the depot, sources told The News.

The union chair’s typical shift, during which he was supposed to attend to union business, ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. His “extra” — overtime — shift was scheduled from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. each day, for which he was paid time-and-a-half.

According to an investigation report produced by the MTA’s Office of the Inspector General — a copy of which was reviewed by The News — investigators surveilled Thorne on ten separate occasions over the course of a year.

Twice while under surveillance, Thorne missed his overtime entirely, investigators said. On another occasion, he missed his overtime shift and showed up nearly a half hour late to his regular shift.

Twice he was more than two hours late for his three-hour overtime shift, and once he was 30 minutes late for his “extra.”

Three out of the 10 times investigators were watching, he showed up on time to move buses. On each of those 10 instances, investigators said, his timecard looked the same: three hours of overtime and an eight-hour day.

MTA brass was alerted in March, sources said, and the agency brought Thorne up on disciplinary charges.

Sources familiar with work at the depot said the union rep put in for retirement after catching wind of the charges.

Asked about that, Transit president Richard Davey said he was “pretty damn outraged.”

“When I found out about [Thorne retiring], we put a hold on all his outstanding time and pay,” Davey said.

“We had a union rep who was getting paid and wasn’t on the job,” he said. “I’ve got tens of thousands of rank-and-file bus operators [who were].”

“On behalf of them, I was pretty outraged,” he added.

Attempts by The News to reach Thorne for comment were unsuccessful, and a spokesperson for TWU Local 100 did not reply to a request for comment.

Thorne was the top union official at the depot last year, when a wildcat sick-out hampered bus service in Brooklyn during contract negotiations.

MTA brass said the investigation into Thorne’s overtime was unrelated, and that they did not file any tips or complaints with the inspector general’s office.

Union reps are not typically required to use the MTA’s digital timecard system, given the likelihood they may have to work out of different facilities.

NYC Transit leadership has agreed to move union officials to the digital timecards going forward, according to the OIG report.


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