Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit


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NYS Comptroller


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Metropolitan Transportation Authority – New York City Transit
Operational Training and Medical Assessments of Train Crews

Issued: March 1, 2018
Link to full audit report 2016-S-26
Link to 90-day response

To determine whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit established and implemented training and retraining programs for train crews to ensure safe train operations; ensured that train crews are medically fit; and periodically monitored train crews forcontinued medical fitness. The audit period covered from January 1, 2013 to October 31, 2016.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation that operates North America’s largest transportation network. One of six MTA constituent agencies, New York City Transit (Transit) operates bus and subway service within the City of New York.

Train crews consist of two members: a Train Operator and a Conductor – both of whom have direct responsibility for the safe, timely, and proper operation of Transit trains. Transit also has Train Service Supervisors (TSS), who, among other duties, supervise the day-to-day operations of Train Operators and Conductors, evaluate and monitor train service personnel for fitness of duty, and respond to and investigate operational incidents and take corrective action if necessary.

Employees new to these positions must go through Induction Training, where they learn how to operate trains in revenue and non-revenue road service, and in yard or terminal service; prepare trains for road service and switch cars in the yards; and learn the components of a train and gain familiarity with operating procedures, including how to deal with emergency situations. Skills are assessed through quizzes, tests, and practical examinations. To pass the course, employees must achieve a minimum grade of 80 percent on each written exam. All quizzes and examinations (written and practical) are to be retained in the employee’s training files for future reference. Once on the job, Train Operators and Conductors are required to undergo, and complete, periodic Refresher Training every three years.

Train crews are also required to pass a medical assessment prior to assuming new responsibilities, and undergo periodical medical assessments every two years for Train Operators, and every five years for Conductors. Revisits may be required as determined by medical personnel. Federal regulations also require annual hearing tests for train crews.

Key Findings

  • Transit is not in compliance with the requirements of the Induction Training curriculum established for its train crews. This lack of compliance may be tied to poor outcomes. For instance, all four Train Operators in our sample who had five or more operating incidents during the audit period had a history of failing grades and/or tests and quizzes missing from their training files.
  • Train Operators and Conductors are not always meeting or completing Refresher Training requirements. Our review of training files for 45 employees showed that only 16 employees (35 percent) received a passing grade of 80 or higher on the final test, while 23 employees (51 percent) failed the test and returned to work; for the remaining six employees, tests were missing from the files. Moreover, of the 96 employees we sampled, 22 were overdue for training and 9 had no history of any Refresher Training.
  • The Hearing Conservation Program requires Train Operators and Conductors to have an annual hearing test. Thirty-four of the 49 Train Operators were required to have between one and four annual hearing tests. Of the 75 required tests, 34 were early, 30 were late, 2 were on time, and 9 were not done. On average, late tests were 34 days overdue.
  • Train crews were also not in compliance with medical assessment requirements. For example, of 36 medical assessments that were required for 33 Train Operators during our audit scope period, based on the information available, we could determine that only 2 were performed on time; 16 were performed late; 13 were performed early; and 5 were not done at the time of the employee’s last day worked prior to retirement.
  • Our review of TSS Induction Training files found inconsistencies with test scoring and file maintenance, including missing test files, ungraded tests, and missing attendance records.

Key Recommendations

  • Require all training instructors to review the class files periodically during and at the end of training to ensure that all quizzes, tests, and examinations are documented and graded, and are retained in training files along with attendance sheets.
  • Evaluate the Refresher Training to determine the reason for the low passing rate and implement corrective action.
  • Develop a system that properly tracks and monitors employee medical assessments, hearing tests, and revisits against the scheduled time intervals.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236