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RTO New Hire FAQ

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Too many redundant posts in the same threads, so I figured I'd put this together. Mods please close this to replies and sticky it.


It only applies to RTO, not buses, not MOW, Car Equipment, etc. so if you're applying to those titles this info does not apply to you.




I'm not sure about (piece of information) concerning the exam, where do I look?

Read the Notice of Examination for the exam you are planning to take. It will be made available once the filing period starts. It covers everything from who is eligible, what types of questions they will ask, when the test is, to the responsibilities of the position the exam is for.


I've filed for the exam, what happens next?

You will receive an admission ticket in the mail before the exam telling you where and when to report. You must bring this with you to the test site to take the exam. If you don't receive an admission ticket, follow the instructions on the Notice of Examination to get one.


I took the exam, how do I find out how I did?

Hopefully, when you took the exam, you filled out the Candidate's Record of Answers. You can check this against the proposed answer key, which will come out a few weeks or months after the exam date, to determine a possible (not final) score. Generally, this is the lowest score you could have gotten on the exam.


A question wasn't fair, now what?

On the Candidate's Record of Answers, there will be information about the protest session. You will be provided a copy of the exam and must detail in writing what about the question makes it so that your answer should be correct. It will be reviewed, and if a committee agrees with your protest, your answer will be accepted. You do not have to submit a protest to get credit for a protested question. If the question is protested successfully, anyone who took the exam who put an answer the committee determines to be correct will get credit for that question.


When will I get my final score and list number?

When the list has been finalized and all exams have been graded. You will receive your score and list number in the mail.


Why is my list number higher than (so and so's)...we got the same score?

There are tiebreakers applied to scores (the most common involves a random number followed by the last 4 of the applicant's social security # to generate a 5 digit tiebreaker number) to determine list number.




When will I get called?
When they get to your list number. It goes in order from 1 until they kill the list (minimum 4 years). If they don't get to your list number before they kill the list, you aren't getting called. So keep taking tests while you wait to hear back.


I got a notice in the mail to come in for medical. What will happen next?

Congratulations. They got to your number. That said, you aren't coming in for medical. You are coming in for a drug test. Fill out the 6 page booklet, and report as per the instructions in the letter. Make sure you can detail your employment history, and account for gaps in employment with information such as how you supported yourself or why you weren't working (IE if you were in school). Upon completion of taking the drug test (lab results will take a few days to come back, so you're not out of the woods just yet), you will receive a 21 page booklet to complete by your next visit.


What happens after the drug test?

If you pass the drug test, and there is an opening in an upcoming class before the drug test you took expires, you will receive a phone call to come in for medical and (if you're lucky) final processing. The phone call is the only reminder you will get of this appointment so do not forget it. Make sure you have the 21 page booklet filled out completely correctly.


What happens if my drug test expires?

You have to take another one, and hope you get called back for medical before that one expires too. Otherwise you'll be taking it a third time.


What kinds of things do I need to put in the 21 page booklet?
All of your personal information, job history, addresses you've lived at, how you supported yourself during period of unemployment, arrests/convictions, educational history. Pretty much just about everything except sealed records or transit adjudications as a minor (IE if you hopped a turnstile when you were 12 and the record was sealed).


What happens at the medical?

You will turn in your 21 page booklet and move on to medical. You will fill out a questionnaire about your health history including any medications you take, will be tested for blood pressure, EKG, physical strength, vision, and hearing. Be prepared to have your doctor's number in case you need him/her to sign off on something for you if it's something in your history. If you aren't able to resolve everything with the medical, you will be placed on medical hold until you can get something from your doctor stating they see no reason why you can't work for the TA in your title.


If I pass medical, then what?

Then, if there is a spot in an upcoming class open to you, you will move on to final processing. An HR specialist will review your file with you, ask you to clarify any discrepancies, and if everything checks out, you will be sworn in. You will also be fingerprinted for your background check, your photo will be taken for your employee pass, and you will enroll in the pension system. You will be given a start date, and an info packet with where and when to report.


Background check?

An independent company hired by the TA will do a thorough background check on you during your first year of employment. Make sure that everything you filled out is accurate as much as possible. Just because they hire you doesn't mean you're good. If they catch you later they will pull you out of the class whenever they find out. And they will find out.


What if I have an issue during final processing?

Then you will be on hold and need to resolve it. Pay those parking tickets, and get proof they are paid (or whatever it is).




Where do I go the first day?

That info packet you got when HR processed you will have the info (time and location) on it. Be there or be square. No one is going to call and remind you. That's why they give you the paper. Welcome to life as an adult, this is how things will work in TA. Go.


What happens the first day?

You will go through orientation. HR and the union will go over a lot of different things with you, mostly concerning benefits. You will likely be mixed in with a lot of other new hires in various titles (including non-RTO) the first 2 days. Pay attention to everything, but pay special attention anytime you hear anything about your title.


What happens after that?

Most of the first week is to get you acclimated. On the second day, you will find out where you will be going - Subdivision A (number trains and Grand Central Shuttle) or Subdivision B (all other letter trains). One of 3 things will happen - either your class will all be going to Sub A, your class will all be going to Sub B, or your class will be split. If your class will be split, some of you will be going to Sub A, some of you will be going to Sub B. There will be a designated number of spots for each. Based on your list number, your entire class (believe it or not) will have already been assigned seniority (hence why it's better to score higher on the test and get a lower list number!) Once one particular option has "sold out" any remaining employees in your title will be assigned to the other subdivision. Hopefully you got to pick first! All employees will also pick their pay location. This is where you will get your paycheck every 2 weeks (unless you set up direct deposit), and it is also where you will get your W2 every year.


Should I go to subdivision A or B if I get the choice?

Up to you. Based on your personal circumstances.

Sub A: Pros - less equipment to learn, smaller so easier to get around to all locations as a whole, also easier to learn. Cons - trains run close together so more congestion and tight schedules, more signal types to learn and encounter often (you will have to learn all the signals regardless of which subdivision you pick, however). Neutrals - most reporting locations are uptown or in the Bronx, can be good or bad depending on where you live

Sub B: Pros - more space between trains, less of a high pressure environment, and less crowding on trains. Only have conventional signalling (not old IRT). Cons - much more equipment to learn and many more locations and lines to learn. Travel can be difficult because it is so much more spread out. Neutrals - most reporting locations are in Brooklyn or Queens, can be good or bad depending on where you live.


Remember, if you live in the Bronx 3 blocks from the D line, it might sound good to pick Sub B because the D belongs to it, but expect to go to Brooklyn/Queens often if you choose Sub B. Even though the D doesn't belong to Sub A, you might be better off choosing Sub A because you'll get the nearby 1,2,4, and 5 trains, and won't have to deal with being assigned jobs at Coney Island or Far Rockaway. The opposite would be true, say, for someone who lives in Brooklyn close to the 2/5 lines.


Also remember, when you complete schoolcar, you will be extra extra which means the crew office will decide where and when you report to work. Any location in your subdivision is fair game. And your hours of work will vary, sometimes very greatly. So make the best choice possible.



You will get fitted for uniforms sometime during the first two days which *should* arrive in the next couple weeks but not necessarily. Until they arrive, continue to dress as per the dress code outlined in the packet you received from HR when you got hired. Don't stress too much about shoes, as you will be taken to the shoe truck to get TA footwear before you ever set foot on the tracks. So wear something that meets the description but don't go out and drop $150 on expensive safety shoes you're probably only gonna wear for a week (unless you're into that on your days off)


After the first couple days, then what?

Follow the instructions of the orientation leaders. More likely than not, you will be directed to report to the Learning Center in Gravesend, Brooklyn (aka "PS 248") for the last 3 days of the first week. There are more orientation type activities scheduled as well as several required trainings. From Day 3 on, you will be under Operations Training, not HR. By your second week, your induction group will be split into smaller classes which will become your "schoolcar class". You should also meet your instructors, if not you'll meet them the 2nd week when you split up into your smaller classes. Now you will begin to learn the ins and outs of your job, as well as the various reporting locations in your subdivision.




When does health insurance kick in?

The first of the month following 90 days of employment at TA. Hired January 15, 90 days is somewhere in April, you will be covered starting May 1.


How does the pension work?

Unless you have previous civil service, you're going to be coming into transit as NYCERS Tier 6. To vest in the pension, you must reach 10 years of NYCERS credited service to TA. That will set up a pension benefit that you can begin collecting at age 63. This is the 63/10 plan, and it's considered partially vesting your pension. To fully vest your pension, you must reach 25 years of NYCERS credited service to TA. That will set up a pension benefit that you can begin collecting at age 55. This is the 25/55 retirement plan. Anyone who attains less than 10 years of NYCERS credited service before leaving is entitled to have their pension contributions plus interest refunded to them, but will receive no other pension benefit.


Tier 6 employees contribute a minimum of 3% and a maximum of 6% of their earnings into the pension system to pay for their future benefit, depending on their earnings. Go to the NYCERS website for more information about the pension tiers, this is intentionally quick and dirty.


Do I have to join the union?

No, but dues will be taken out of your check anyway (NYCT is a "closed shop"), so join the union. It affords certain perks that not joining doesn't. The union should be telling you about these when they make their presentation to you new hires.


Do I have to decide which benefits to sign up for my very first week?

No, you have time. If you want to talk things over with your spouse, go right ahead. Don't let anyone pressure you into signing up for payroll deductions without thinking things through...they are perfectly happy to start taking things out of your paycheck later as they are the first day. But in all seriousness, do your research. The only thing you should be definitely deciding the first week is which health insurance you want, and even that you have time to decide.


Last but not least


What's the best advice you can give me?

-Get your rest

-Come to work and be on time

-No excuses, play like a champion

-Ask questions when you don't understand something, and ask them of the right people (HINT: your instructors...not your classmates!)

-Avoid know it alls. They usually don't. That said, definitely don't be one.

-Crack a book when you're off the clock. It actually helps a lot if you do the reading on your own time, class will be a review and for clarification rather than trying to memorize new concepts cold.

-Take notes, especially when you "post" on the various lines. You will forget a lot of things and it's good to have them written down somewhere in case that happens.

-Study and practice. Learning is a two way street...let your instructors know if you're having a hard time with something. They are here to help you.

-Learning doesn't end when you complete schoolcar, it begins.

-Stay humble, or you'll find out the hard way why you should be.



Edited by SubwayGuy
  • Upvote 17

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