Drug and alcohol use among Amtrak employees "has been generally trending upward since 2006," an alarming trend that increases the likelihood of a serious wreck, the railroad's inspector general warned in a recently released report.
In 2011, Amtrak's combined positive test rate was roughly 51 percent higher than the industry average, its worst year since 2007, according to the report. The increase in drug use poses a risk to not only Amtrak employees, but also to the traveling public, the inspector general warns.
The new report was released just before the railroad set a new annual ridership record, carrying more than 31.2 million passengers during Fiscal Year 2012. At the same time, Amtrak, which relies on taxpayer dollars for operations, also reported a 6.8 percent increase in ticket revenue for the year, collecting more than $2 billion.
"Amtrak is not exercising due diligence to control the use of drugs and alcohol by these employees," the IG noted in the report. "Until we presented Amtrak’s key senior management with our preliminary results, they were unaware of the extent of drug and alcohol use by these employees."