Exclusive Investigation: NJ Transit engineer has suspended driver's license

Monday, May 23, 2016
Exclusive Investigation: NJ Transit engineer has suspended driver's license
Jim Hoffer has the exclusive investigation.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- He is responsible for getting thousands of rail commuters to work every week, but the state of New Jersey says he's unsafe behind the wheel of a car.

He's a New Jersey Transit Engineer and even though he lost his driver's license for DWI-related issues, he is legally able to drive a train.

Engineer Thomas Broschart drives passengers on NJ Transit trains hundreds of miles every week. But at the end of his work day, Broschart can't drive a single mile behind the wheel of a car, he has to have someone pick him up to take him home.

"I'm just giving you a chance to be on the record here, to tell your story," said Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Jim Hoffer.

"There is no story to tell," Broschart said.

Actually, he has quite a history. In 1995, Broschart's license is suspended for two years for failing to take a breathalyzer test. Four years later, his license was suspended for one year for DWI. In 2001, the state suspends Broschart's license for the third time for failure to comply with a mandatory alcohol program. Then in 2007, he again refuses to take a breathalyzer, this time the state had enough and suspended his license for 10 years.

"You don't need a driver's license. One has nothing to do with the other," Broschart said.

And he's right, federal regulations do not require a motor vehicle driver's license to operate a locomotive.

A New Jersey Transit spokesperson says, "The engineer is certified to operate locomotives according to federal law."

"That's a cop out, it's really a non-response by New Jersey Transit if they are saying under the law he's allowed to drive, they are not using common sense," said Andrew Maloney, a Transit Accident Attorney.

Maloney says weak federal rail laws should never trump safety.

"What he has shown here is a pattern, a long standing pattern, he's not learned his lesson and that's scary, scary to be driving a train," Maloney said.

Some passengers on his train agreed.

"It does concern me, sure it does he's irresponsible," said Denise Rizeg, a passenger.

"Would it surprise you to know, it's perfectly legal, a loop hole?" Hoffer said.

"Yes very much, in the state of New Jersey maybe not," said Art Nello, a passenger.

Legal, but a dangerous loophole that allows this engineer and who knows how many others to drive powerful trains even when deemed unsafe to drive a car.

Ironically, when we approached him posing as a train buff he equated the two.

"It's a lot to learn but like anything else, once you get it it's like driving a car," Broschart said.

And like driving a car, a little road rage or rail rage from Engineer Broschart who gave Eyewitness News an obscene gesture when our chopper spotted him behind the controls.

Eyewitness News wanted to know how many other engineers with revoked driver's licenses are operating trains for New Jersey Transit. They did not respond.

Also, there was no response from NJ Transit on whether Broschart has ever been suspended by the railroad.