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Color blind MTA bus driver fights to get back behind wheel

A bus driver who was taken off the road for being color blind is fighting to get back behind the wheel.

Jose Cruz, a veteran MTA bus driver, wants to take a road test to demonstrate he can maneuver through the city safely.

But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says Cruz is better suited for his new position – cleaning dashboards in a depot.

The veteran driver was forced to exchange his keys for a dust rag in June after being asked twice to identify red, green and yellow lights at a NYC transit division medical facility. “Mr. Cruz failed the test on both dates,” agency medical director Dr. Suzanne Lim said in a sworn affidavit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

The MTA requires bus drivers receive periodic physicals. After the MTA vision check, Cruz went to his own doctor, who determined the bus driver had a “red pigment color deficiency.” Still, the doctor found Cruz medically qualified to operate a bus under the provisions of state law.

A third, impartial physician selected by the union and management then diagnosed Cruz with a “strong red-green defect” and suggested a road test to see he could decipher traffic signals. The MTA filed a lawsuit to block Transport Workers Union Local 100 from having the dispute settled by TWU-MTA contract arbitrator Richard Adelman. The MTA argues such a medical dispute is outside Adelman’s jurisdiction.

Union lawyer Arthur Schwarz, however, said the MTA is really wants to prevent Adelman from hearing the case. After Adelman issued pro-union decision in a separate matter last month, the MTA pink-slipped the arbitrator, saying his services would no longer be required in a few months.

Schwartz contends Adelman can’t be fired without the union’s consent and will ask a state labor-relations board to intervene, Schwartz said.


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