ATU Training coming soon to your Mailbox

Keep an eye out for the next In Transit coming to your home soon. This edition features stories on ATU’s innovative and comprehensive training programs for Local officers and members alike to prepare, anticipate and fight for the interests of our members, riders and our communities. Also be sure to read International President Larry Hanley’s column and one from new ATU Canada President John Di Nino. We also cover the winners of the 2018-2019 ATU Tommy Douglas scholarships. You’ll also find stories about ATU Locals engaging and mobilizing in their communities. Check out this video for a preview.

Edmonton Local wins in ruling for drivers’ privacy

In the wake of two bus-related pedestrian fatalities in 2016, the City of Edmonton hired a contractor to develop a program to evaluate new hires’ driving skills and cognitive abilities. Citing privacy concerns Local 569-Edmonton challenged the cognitive testing in a grievance, arguing the city had “no legal or factual basis for imposing cognitive testing on all ETS drivers and no legal or factual basis for imposing subsequent medical assessments” on operators flagged by the test. An arbitrator agreed ruling that the cognitive testing is “unreasonable” and “intrusive” and an invasion of privacy. Now the Local and the city are working to reach a monetary settlement for those affected by the breach of privacy. Read more.

An ATU hero in Topeka, KS

Topeka Metro bus driver Niles Brandstoettner is being hailed as a hero for saving a lost child on his route. The Local 1360-Topeka, KS, member said his instincts took over when he saw the little girl walking in the street barefoot with no one else around. “I knew something was wrong, I pulled the bus over, I got out and went and picked her up,” Brandstoettner said. “I did the same thing anyone would have done, I hope.” The dispatcher who took the call from Brandstoettner, praised him, “Niles is a very compassionate, high energy and he thinks quick on his feet.” We couldn’t agree more. Read more.

Toledo Local: TARTA faces morale issues

Forced overtime and frequent bus breakdowns are devastating TARTA drivers’ and mechanics’ morale, Local 697-Toledo, OH wrote in a letter asking the agency head to attend a meeting of workers to discuss their concerns and possible solutions. “We are worn down and tired. Our families suffer because we are slaves to TARTA,” wrote Local President Carly Allen pointing out drivers put in more than 80 hours a week, have day-off requests denied and are disciplined for showing up a minute late. The Local’s mechanics say bus breakdowns are happening far too often, leaving them “frustrated and worried about what’s out on the road.” TARTA’s General Manager couldn’t attend, but sent his human resources manager instead. Read more.

Another possible blind spot accident

The tragic death of a pedestrian killed by a Harrisburg bus in a crosswalk could be another example of a preventable blind spot accident caused by poor bus design. Roughly one pedestrian per week is killed by a transit bus in the U.S. from accidents like these. Many buses in the U.S. have huge left hand mirrors mounted on critical sightlines and a massive “A” pillar that needlessly block the driver’s vision. More than a dozen pedestrians may be hidden from the driver’s view at any given time. Meanwhile European buses provide drivers with a clear view. ATU has been engaged in a union-wide campaign to call on transit agencies to fix these dangerous blind spots and other bus safety issues. ATU sends condolences to the Harrisburg victim’s family and thoughts to the bus driver involved in this accident. Read more.

Majority Wants Provincial Funding
Restored to Winnipeg Transit

Four out of five Winnipeg voters want the province of Manitoba to resume paying for half of the city’s transit costs that aren’t covered by fares according to a poll commissioned by Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB. The province froze its transit funding for Winnipeg at 2016 levels claiming a budgetary deficit. That left the city responsible for inflationary cost increases. In response the Winnipeg City Council raised transit fares this year. “The province has to step up and be able to restore the funding,” said Local President Aleem Chaudhary. “We also have the carbon tax coming in, and we should be able to put the funding back and … increase it.” Read more.