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NYC subway operator training gets poor marks in state audit

Riders scanning the newspaper while riding a New York City subway might want to avoid perusing the details of a just-published story on operators' training and performance.
If they do, they just might want to curtail their journey and get off at the next stop.

The Office of the New York State Comptroller released an audit last week concerning the MTA's conductor/operator training programs. One NYC media publication calls it "damning" for the glaring deficiencies it spotlights.

Here's one: In nearly 60% of more than 100 worker files examined in the audit, researchers saw no evidence that operators had taken and passed mandatory "crucial quizzes."

And here's another: Reportedly, train crews are often not timely scheduled to undergo required medical examinations.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says that such performance shortfalls "raise concerns not just for rider service, but for riders' safety."

Veteran subway workers clearly back up that assessment. Several of those employees recently told media investigators that training lapses have resulted in subpar operator education and resulting problems for passengers. They say that too much of the training is conducted in simulated -- not real-world -- environments where valuable hands-on education is lacking.

In its defense, the MTA counters that the audit's sampling size was too small to be truly accurate or instructive. It staunchly defends its record and training protocols, stating that transit accident and injury occurrences "are extremely low for both customers and employees."

DiNapoli says that the report is not an official indictment of MTA policies and procedures. Rather, its findings should more properly be considered as "informed suggestions for improving the subway system."

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