Federal Transit Administration Raising Random Drug Testing Rate

FTA's minimum random testing rate was lowered from 50 percent to 25 percent in 2007 and has remained there since then. But the violation rate in 2017 was 1.06 percent, requiring the agency to increase the random testing rate back to 50 percent.

The Federal Transit Administration will raise its random drug testing from 25 percent to 50 percent of covered employees, effective Jan. 1, 2019, for employers covered by the agency's drug and alcohol regulation. The increase was triggered by what FTA's acting administrator, K. Jane Williams, called "a recent uptic in the proportion of violations identified through random drug testing," in a letter dated Oct. 17.

The 50 percent random testing rate will apply to entities receiving federal assistance from the agency, including grantees and "safety-sensitive contractors," according to her letter, which said 49 USC 5331(b)(1) required FTA to establish a program that directs public transportation operators that receive financial assistance under certain FTA programs to conduct random testing of workers doing safety-sensitive jobs.

FTA can lower the minimum random testing rate from 50 percent to 25 percent when data from two consecutive years shows the reported positive violation rate is under 1 percent. This was done in 2007, and the testing rate has remained at 25 percent since then. By law, FTA must raise the rate back to 50 percent if the positive violation rate tops 1 percent, and Williams' letter says the reported violation rate in 2017 was 1.06 percent.

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