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54 MBTA Workers Kept Their Jobs After Failing Alcohol and Drug Tests

According to the Boston Herald, T substance abuse test results in the last three years show that 77 MBTA trolley operators, bus drivers, and train operators had tested positive for alcohol or drug use. Despite these results, only 21 of these MBTA workers were fired, while 2 other employees resigned.

Substance abuse by MBTA workers became an issue of scrutiny last month after trolley operators involved in two separate Green Line trolley crashes were fired after they took drug tests after the accidents and failed them. The MBTA has a two-strike policy for workers caught using substances.

The T randomly tests all workers employed in positions considered “safety sensitive.” Anyone who fails testing is suspended for 40 days without pay. However, unless a vehicle crash or train collision is a factor, the worker usually gets a second chance.

Out of the 77 workers that did not pass T’s random drug testing, 54 of them received the 40-day suspension penalty but kept their jobs. About 8,700 MBTA workers have undergone random testing since 2006. Of the 21 employees that were fired, three of them were street car operators, 12 of them were bus drivers, and two of them were train operators.

Critics of this two-strike policy say that the MBTA should have a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol or drug use. Some 1.3 million rides occur on MBTA buses, trains, and trollies each week. A drugged out bus driver or a drunken trolley operator can cause serious injuries to train passengers, motorists, and pedestrians if their impairment prevents them from operating their vehicle properly and safely.

MBTA passengers injured in bus collisions, train accidents, or trolley crashes may have grounds to file an MBTA injury claim if their accident occurred because the T operator acted negligently or carelessly. The MBTA is required to hire qualified workers who will do their jobs in a manner that protects passenger safety. Failure to fulfill this duty can be grounds for a Massachusetts personal injury case.

T Workers Who Failed Drug Tests Still On Job, WCVB, December 17, 2008
Review: 54 MBTA workers failed drug tests but still on job, Boston Herald, December 17, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

T suspends, will fire two after Green Line crashes, Boston Herald, November 22, 2008
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