The room was furnished with a wall-mounted TV connected to a transmitter, futon sofa, refrigerator, air mattress and microwave, according to a Thursday report by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspectorate Caroline Bukorni.
“Imagine a lot of New Yorkers taking back a cold beer in a prime piece of Manhattan real estate – especially those close to good transportation,” Bochorni said in a statement online. “But few of them will have the nerve to take over a secret room below the Grand Central Station and make it their own cave that supports MTA resources, and is maintained at the expense of our passengers.”
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found:
Half beer consumed in the refrigerator and an empty can in the trash
– A transparent plastic bag filled with bedspreads and quilts
– A cupboard in a locksmith store storage area concealed a rollaway bed
The RTA said there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that three Metro-North Rail employees: a wireman, a carpenter foreman, and an electrical foreman manager, have used the unauthorized break room multiple times. It is unclear if the staff used the room while they were around the clock.
The RTA report stated that the three individuals were arrested without pay until the disciplinary hearings.
The room was reported anonymously last year
The MTA’s Inspector General’s Office said it received an anonymous complaint in February 2019 about the room. That complaint described the same three designated employees that they would “hang out, get drunk and celebrate.” A second similar complaint was filed in late June 2019.
It is unclear when the unauthorized break room was first constructed and for how long.
These complaints were handed over to the Northern Metro Rail Security Administration for investigation, according to the MTA report, but the MTA’s Office of the Inspector General found during its investigation that the complaints were not considered again.
“The behavior described in the IG report is outrageously inappropriate and inconsistent with Metro-North’s values and the commitment we have to provide a safe, reliable and cost-effective service to our customers,” said Kathryn Rinaldi, president of Metro-North Railroad.
Grand Central Station management told investigators they did not even know the room existed, let alone that it was the storage room for locks, according to the report. Officials said that connecting the TV and broadcasting device created a potential fire risk, and that “the multinational movement’s fire brigade considers an unassigned room whose key appears to be not very dangerous.”
“The risks associated with personnel hiding in that room with the door closed create a variety of risks, including rescuers being unable to quickly get into the room.”