New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest U.S. mass-transit system, may face additional labor costs of $288 million through 2018 for commuter-rail workers, according to bond documents.

The MTA this week proposed a 17 percent wage increase over seven years for Long Island Rail Road workers to help avoid a strike next month. That would cost $147 million in retroactive and future raises through 2018, according to the documents. Similar increases for Metro-North Railroad unions would bring the cost to $288 million in the period, the documents show.

The agency, which runs subways, buses, commuter railroads and some bridges and tunnels, employs 66,000 workers and carries 8.5 million riders daily in the New York City area. Workers walked out for three days in 2005 when negotiations broke down. That strike cost the city’s economy about $1 billion, Comptroller William Thompson estimated at the time.

“The MTA recognizes how paralyzing a strike would be to the ordinary Long Islander, which is why we’ve stepped up and we’ve come up with a proposal that we think is within everyone’s power to help avert a strike,” Anita Miller, the state agency’s director of labor relations, said June 24 in announcing the 17 percent offer.

The increases for the LIRR and Metro-North come on top of a projected $525 million boost through 2017 for retroactive and future raises negotiated by Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents subway and bus employees.

The MTA is considering directing $110 million of pay-as- you-go money allocated for capital spending to help cover the rising labor costs, Adam Lisberg, an MTA spokesman, said by e- mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Kaske in New York at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at Pete Young, Neil Western.

Tags: mta, nyc
Photo Credit: A custodian carries bags of garbage as New York City subway trains stop at the Coney Island station prior to a total subway shutdown at 7pm in New York, October 28, 2012. Keith Bedford / Reuters