To determine whether the number of accidents involving vehicles providing services to Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Access-A-Ride program has increased and what actions the MTA and its contracted carriers have taken to reduce them. The audit covers the period January 1, 2008 through September 5, 2012.
Federal law requires the MTA to provide transportation services to individuals with disabilities. New York City Transit's (Transit) Paratransit Division supplies this service through a network of 14 carriers under contract who operate specialized vehicles leased from Transit as well as through several "black car" livery services and taxi companies. Transit has branded this paratransit service as Access-A-Ride (AAR). Paratransit Division costs averaged $430.4 million from calendar year 2008 to calendar year 2012.
Carriers and black car services are required to immediately notify the Paratransit Division of any accidents/incidents and provide a written report within 24 hours. Simultaneously, the carrier is required to send a copy of the reports to the MTA's third-party administrator for automobile liability insurance, Claims Service Bureau (CSB). CSB handles claims that result from the accidents. The 14 carriers are covered for personal injury and property damage through MTA's captive insurance company, First Mutual Transportation Assurance Company. Black car and taxi companies are required to maintain appropriate insurance coverage.
- The number of reported accidents increased from calendar year 2008 through calendar 2010, but declined in calendar year 2011. However, carrier incidents of $1,000 or less are not all reported, as required. Similarly, the black car service providers did not report accidents as required under their contract, and the Paratransit Division did not maintain information about these accidents. This raises concern about possible liability risk associated with the expanding use of black car services. For the most part, the Paratransit Division and the carriers comply with the motor carrier standards we tested.
- Carriers' drug and alcohol testing needs to be better documented, and carriers need to ensure employees entrusted with these responsibilities understand the standards and consequences of specific test results. We also found that carriers' first annual review of driver abstracts is not always timely. Such reviews are important to determine whether a driver should continue to operate a vehicle. Paratransit Division officials provided information after the draft audit report was issued that it has a practice of obtaining a driver's abstract within 90 days of the hire date, which changes the date of the first annual review. However, this practice is not in writing or approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Meet with black car service providers to remind them of their responsibility to report accidents to AAR in accordance with their contract and ensure they have a corrective action plan for drivers involved in accidents.
- Ensure all carriers are in compliance with contract accident reporting requirements.
- Ensure that carriers' drug and alcohol coordinators maintain the appropriate records, as required by the contract and federal regulations, including records that document the randomness of the selection process.
- Ensure that carriers' drug and alcohol coordinators are fully aware of the standards and consequences of positive test results, including the standard that requires employees with test results registering between 0.02 and 0.039 blood alcohol concentration be relieved of their duties for 24 hours.
Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit: Access-A-Ride Safety Issues (Follow-Up) (2012-F-17)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit: Access-A-Ride Safety Issues (2007-S-127)
State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236