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Metro officials said the tests were multiple choice and that the behavior test is designed to fail about half of the applicants.

“I don’t think the test is rocket science,” said Jackie L. Jeter, president of the union that represents most Metro workers.

She said filling the new jobs wouldn’t be a problem. “All you have to do is look at the unemployment line. … How long it’s going to take to get to 1,000, I don’t know, but the ones they are advertising are pretty good-paying jobs.”

To explain the 1.4 percent of operators who are Hispanic and 1.5 percent who are white, Mrs. Jeter speculated that such people must not be applying. (The union is not responsible for hiring.)

Mr. Downs said, for the same reasons Mrs. Jeter noted, that is false.

“Of course they are. These are good-paying jobs with retirement and health care,” Mr. Downs said.

Metro declined to provide demographic information on applicants.

Pay and a pension

The average Metro worker had a $60,000 salary, which went up to $69,000 including overtime, about the same as D.C. schoolteachers.

The 144 people who try to keep Metro’s escalators in service make $80,000 to $100,000, after paid training at a $60,000 to $80,000 per year rate. The 488 station managers inside glass kiosks at rail stations — occasionally fielding questions, often with a bare minimum of information, riders say — have base salaries in the high $50,000s, but in reality, most take home closer to $70,000. Including overtime, 20 station managers made in the six figures.

Nearly all of Metro’s 3,000 bus and train operators were paid overtime, with more than 1 in 3 making more than $10,000 in overtime and more than 1 in 10 supplementing his or her salary by more than $25,000, according to a Times analysis of payroll records obtained through open-records requests.

The fiscal 2010 budget includes some emergency work done after the June 2009 Red Line crash. Metro officials declined to provide The Times with detailed records since 2010, but overtime rose in 2011 before falling sharply in 2012 in emergency-related categories. Overtime for station managers and bus and train operators, however, has remained constant for years, and the agency’s 2013 budget allots for an increase in overtime across all categories.

Some overtime for bus drivers comes from shuttles that replace trains when portions of tracks are shut down for repairs. Other overtime is preferred over hiring more workers because of the cost of benefits for new hires, Mr. Stessel said.

Overtime allows workers to dramatically increase the pension they collect upon retirement. The pension is based on an average of the worker’s highest-earning years.

Mrs. Jeter said low-ranking workers’ salaries weren’t too high given what managers earn.

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