PA: Westmoreland transit halts drug testing of administrative staff

Oct. 22—The Westmoreland County Transit Authority board of directors eliminated the requirement for members of the agency’s administrative team to submit to random drug testing.

The council approved a request after officials said the requirement was unnecessary. Eliminating it could also save money, officials said.

“No one has ever tested positive,” executive director Alan Blahovec said.

The Authority’s personnel policy required the random testing of at least three employees every four months.

The authority’s employee numbers increased significantly in early 2020 after the agency resumed operation of its fixed-route local and commuter bus service and shared paratransit programs. Prior to 2020, the authority served as a strictly administrative agency with around a dozen employees and contracted out the driving and repair of its buses and other passenger vehicles to private companies.

The authority now has about 130 employees, including about fifteen who hold administrative positions.

Administrative employees, including Blahovec, will be exempt from random drug testing.

“We only do random testing when it involves security issues. There’s no reason to randomly test non-security employees,” Blahovec said.

The authority operates a fleet of 41 buses which travel 16 routes daily. Ridership on the fixed-route service cratered in 2020 after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but has since shown signs of rebounding. Bus ridership has increased about 25% over the past year, according to assistant manager Ashley Cooper-Brounce.

Meanwhile, the authority’s ride-sharing service, a door-to-door service for low-income, elderly and disabled passengers, has also seen increases, having risen about 24% since last September. This service operates with approximately 60 buses and smaller passenger vehicles.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Rich by email at [email protected] or via Twitter.


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