CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One of the state’s largest public transportation systems has made a one word change in its drug testing policy in connection with the current drug epidemic.

“We changed the word opiates to opioids,” Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT) Assistant General Manager Doug Hartley said Thursday. “That allows a broader spectrum of drugs that are looked at during the testing process. Some of the synthetic drugs by definition were not opiates.”

KRT’s board made the change at its meeting Thursday. The change was mandated by the federal government which provides significant funding to public transportation.

Drug testing that KRT and other public transportation operations do will be expanded beginning Jan. 1, Hartley said.

“It’s the same test that was going on before but now it broadens the spectrum of what it is looking at in the thresholds,” he said.

KRT drivers and other system workers passed a drug test before they were hired and are subject to random drug tests after their employment, Hartley said.

“Really any day of the year we could be tested,” he said. “It’s all random. An out of state firm draws the numbers and notifies our drug compliance officer—-and then we have to immediately test them.”

KRT also currently does drug tests on employees returning to work after being off for several months and drivers involved in accidents or other traffic situations. The system has a voluntary employee assistance program that puts a worker with substance abuse issues in a company paid for program to help them.

Hartley said public transportation must be as safe as possible.

“It’s not something that we take lightly–our duty to the public is to provide safe and sufficient transportation and we need to make sure the people not only driving our buses, but maintaining our buses and directing our buses are in their right minds when they are doing that,” Hartley said.

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