MTA plans to ramp up COVID-19 testing for all transit employees

Photo by Mark Hallum

The MTA has a new plan to test employees for COVID-19 that involves rotating visits to key locations throughout agency facilities to ensure all transit workers are screened at least once a month going into winter.

The testing will be held at field locations, medical assessment facilities and occupational health services centers as the state braces for an increase in the virus and after a spring and summer that saw over 126 transit worker deaths from COVID-19.

“Rapid testing is becoming more and more available and as those technologies and system become available commercially, we’re going after them,” said Patrick Warren, MTA Chief Safety Officer, as well as explaining in a statement: “We know that asymptomatic spread is a very real concern with this virus and we all need to do our part to keep each other safe at work. I want to thank the hardworking MTA employees for keeping this city moving during our most difficult times.” 

An existing partnership between the state and Northwell Health will facilitate the testing operations going forward as they prepare to screen up to 2,000 NYC Transit, LIRR, Metro-North and Bridge and Tunnels employees per week.

“This is exactly the type of screening program we have been asking for and it’s a huge step forward in terms of protecting TWU Local 100 members from a possible second wave,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “We will closely monitor its implementation but we’re grateful our requests for testing and screening on such a scale have been heard.”

In the early days of the pandemic, the MTA saw a high infection rate that force service cuts of up to 30% on account of the agency struggling to find personnel to run trains and buses. As workers starting coming back to work and safety protocols such as personal protective equipment falling into place, the MTA soon restored service.

“Our brave frontline transit workers risked their lives to provide New Yorkers an essential service every single day during this pandemic, and we must support them just as they have supported us,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “This new voluntary screening program leverages New York’s nation-leading COVID testing program to help keep our frontline workers safe during this unprecedented pandemic.” 

Earlier this week, the MTA also determined that the number of employees who died from COVID-19 was not 133, 126.

Testing, according to Cuomo’s office, will be of the RT-PCR variety, which means employees who opt-in will get results back in about 48 hours.

Starting now through November, employees will be able access the testing at the following locations on a rotating basis:

  • East New York Bus Depot  
  • Flatbush Bus Depot  
  • Jackie Gleason Bus Depot
  • Ulmer Park Bus Depot
  • Baisley Park Bus Depot  
  • Casey Stengel Depot  
  • College Point Depot  
  • Far Rockaway Depot  
  • Jamaica Depot  
  • JFK Depot  
  • LaGuardia Depot  
  • Queens Village Depot  
  • Spring Creek Bus Depot  
  • Fresh Pond
  • Grand Avenue
  • Eastchester Depot  
  • Gun Hill Depot  
  • Kingsbridge Depot  
  • West Farms Depot  
  • Yonkers Depot  
  • Mother Clara Hale Depot  
  • Manhattanville Depot  
  • Michael J. Quill  
  • Tuskegee Airmen (100th St)  
  • Castleton Depot  
  • Charleston Depot  
  • Meredith Depot  
  • Yukon Depot  
  • Medical Assessment Center 1      
  • Medical Assessment Center 3     
  • Medical Assessment Center 5, Coney Island Yard
  • OHS Greybar Facility (MNR)     
  • OHS Mineola Facility (LIRR)     
  • 207th Street Yard     
  • Hillside Yard (LIRR) 
  • Croton-Harmon (MNR)

More from around NYC