Boozed-up city subway and bus workers may be getting away scot-free after serious accidents because of the MTA’s failure to promptly test whether they had been drinking, a scathing new report says.
A whopping 90 percent of the 6,600 bus workers and 88.5 percent of the 4,000 subway employees involved in “serious accidents” between 2017 and 2019 weren’t tested for possible booze consumption until more than two hours afterward, according to an investigation by MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny’s office.
Seven MTA employees involved in crashes or derailments in those same years still registered a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or greater even hours later — indicating they could have been impaired at the time of the incidents, the report said.
“Had these 7 employees been tested within 2 hours, their BAC levels might have been at or above the [federal] 0.04 level,’’ the IG’s report said.
In that case, the workers would have been “immediately” pulled off the job and potentially fired, investigators said.
But “without timely tests we cannot determine how many employees actually had alcohol in their system when an accident occurred,” the report said.
One of the seven workers who tested positive for alcohol even after more than two hours was a bus driver in Queens. He was tested 3 hours and 49 minutes after his serious accident, and his BAC was between .02 and .039, the report said.
That means that if he had been tested two hours earlier in accordance with federal guidelines, conservatively, his BAC would likely have been .05 — “well above’’ the .04 limit, taking in factors such as the driver’s weight and lapsed time, the report said.
“If the NYPD can test suspected drunk drivers within 2 hours, then why can’t the MTA do that for employees at the scene of a serious bus or train accident?” Pokorny said in a statement.
“Allowing too much time to pass between the accident and the testing of workers creates an unnecessary roadblock, putting the safety of our riders, workers, and others at risk.”
The report, citing federal guidelines, defined “serious accidents” as “whenever a Transit vehicle accident results in a fatality, an individual suffering bodily injury that requires medical treatment away from the scene, or a revenue vehicle being towed or removed from service.”
It said alcohol and drug testing is required in such cases. The workers tested are bus drivers and train operators and conductors.
Employees must undergo drug testing “as quickly as possible following an accident, but because drugs linger in the bloodstream longer, this test can be administered up to 32 hours after the event,’’ the IG said.
The inspector general’s office did note that “the apparent rate of alcohol usage among the NYC Transit employees tested [between 2017 and 2019] appeared minuscule’’ — but said the problem over testing lag times is still serious.
The office added that it has been studying this issue — and periodically reporting its worrisome findings to the MTA — since 1999, yet the statistics regarding testing are only getting worse.
One reason for test delays is that the workers are getting waylaid by investigators, and it also takes a while for them to travel to approved testing sites, MTA staffers told the probers.
The IG’s office urged the MTA to come up with a better reporting system for testing times and reasons for any delays and possibly use on-scene test kits.
The MTA has agreed to its recommendations, Pokorny’s office said.
“The MTA and New York City Transit are fully committed to an alcohol and drug-free workplace, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told The Post in an e-mailed statement Sunday.
“Each year, we test tens of thousands of employees – our testing program is among the largest in the country and it meets or exceeds all federal regulations and guidelines.
“We agree we could test more efficiently, which is why we are updating our procedures in accordance with the recommendations of this report. This will require significant resources.”
How boozed-up MTA workers may get off scot-free after crashes The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.