• Audit: Access Lynx contractors not in compliance with federal rules on drug, alcohol testing

    By: Jason Kelly , Shannon Butler

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates revealed another major oversight at Lynx involving some of its most vulnerable passengers, and it happened on the CEO's watch.

    Lynx said the cost of driving elderly and disabled riders has helped driven the agency into a $21 million hole.

    9 Investigates has learned the contractors doing the driving were not held to federal rules regarding drug and alcohol tests.


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    If Lynx does not get the contracted drivers tested by March 15, it could lose federal money.

    If the companies do not comply, changes would need to be made to how Lynx picks up some elderly and special-needs passengers.

    Some of the options for sharing rides cost Lynx between $150,000 to $2,200,000, a cost the agency cannot afford.

    Access Lynx is a shared-ride door-to-door transportation service that provides transportation to thousands of customers daily.

    Although it is much needed, the specialized service is costly.

    Read: Could Lynx's CEO be on his way out?

    "That's been our single biggest source of increase," the agency's chief financial officer said.

    He said Lynx transports 37,000 disabled and elderly passengers per month, but 55,000 people need a ride from the paratransit service.

    In 2017, Lynx contracted rides out to companies, such as Lyft and Mears Transportation to pick up more passengers individually.

    The Federal Transportation Administration has drug and alcohol testing rules for transit employees. The rules apply to companies that are contracted under the program.

    Read: Enough training? No one has used $400K Lynx safety simulator in months

    An audit found all of the companies being used were not totally in compliance with federal drug and alcohol rules, and two had no drug policies at all.

    The report from Lynx said that Lyft and Mears Transpiration must "each promptly develop a drug and alcohol testing program."

    Mears Transportation said it will work on developing a testing program, but Lyft has not replied to Lynx's letter.

    In a statement, Lynx cited a taxi cab exemption, saying that until the audit, it had not realized that the exemption did not apply to companies in the transit network.

    A board of directors meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

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