Archive for May, 2012

Retiring school bus driver’s smile has greeted University Place students since the early 1970s

She will miss the kids and the camaraderie of her co-workers.

But most of all, Maureen Davis will miss Bus No. 37.

??It?s my bus,? the University Place resident says of the yellow Chevy that has been her baby for five or six years. ?I hate to leave it.?

She jokingly dreams of taking the eight-seater with her when she retires at the end of June, after some 43 years driving a bus. She has spent more than 40 of those years at the wheel for the University Place School District.

?It would make a great motor home,? Davis muses, then reconsiders.

?It?s a little too new,? she decides.

Davis was a 27-year-old mother of three girls ? her oldest in

kindergarten ? when she decided to give bus driving a try. The former Idaho farm girl who started driving at 14 wasn?t intimidated by a big rig.

As Davis left her house the day of her bus-driving test, her husband, Ken, asked if she knew how to double-clutch. A necessary procedure in the days before synchronized manual transmissions, it requires shifting into neutral before each gear change.

Davis could double-clutch with the best of them.

She passed the driving test, which, back then, involved just a few spins around the block. When there weren?t any openings in UP public schools, she headed over to drive for Charles Wright Academy.

In January 1972, she was hired by the University Place School District.

Since, Davis has logged thousands of miles ? and lots more in training ? while transporting generations of students.

Some kids from her old routes are now adults who also drive for the district.

?They like to tell me about it,? she said.

She loves what she does but decided to retire this year, at 70, ?because it?s time.?

At the district bus yard on Chambers Creek Road, Davis is affectionately known as ?Queenie.? She?s the most experienced of all the district?s 54 regular and substitute drivers, by about 20 years.

It?s not only seniority that earns her the royal treatment from her peers, but also her sunny, can-do attitude ? the kind that makes transportation team members volunteer to buff No. 37?s tires to a glossy shine once she?s finished washing the bus.

?Maureen is great because she?s always willing to help wherever needed,? said dispatcher Patty Cabantan. ?She?s always there to help someone else.?

If another driver is sick, Davis will stay late or give up a day off, Cabantan said.

Davis has a smile with enough wattage to power an entire bus fleet ? and a heart for her young passengers.

She recalls a foster child she transported one season during summer school. She knew the girl had little to call her own. She understood her loneliness.

?I bought her a Pillow Pet,? Davis said. ?She?d get on the bus and lay down on it.?

Davis was sorry to lose touch with the girl at summer?s end.

?You can get pretty involved with the kids,? she said.

Some of her best memories stem from driving for field trips and athletic competitions. Coaches in the district have been known to ask for Davis to drive their team in the belief that she brings good luck.

?I always say that I wished I?d kept a journal,? Davis said. ?There were so many interesting places that you wouldn?t go on your own, but you go with the kids.?

She remembers a few trips to North Bend or downtown Seattle when her bus struggled on steep hills.

?The kids could have walked faster,? she said.

One of her favorite field trips took Curtis High musicians to performances on the Oregon coast.

?I?ve really had no problems on the bus to speak of,? she said. ?The kids relate to how you respect them.?

Her current duties are mainly shuttle runs ? transporting small numbers of students between schools for enrichment programs or taking a few students to out-of-district campuses for programs that aren?t available in UP.

For much of the year, being a school bus driver means rising before dawn.

?A lot of months, we?re out there in the cold and dark in the morning,? Davis said.

But she wouldn?t trade the experience for anything.

?I don?t remember ever dreading to get up and go to this job,? Davis said.

In a farewell message to colleagues, she wrote, ?I have been blessed to work for a district where the administrations have been superior, the teachers and coaches I have driven for are most appreciative and kind, and most of the students have been respectful, obedient and ?loads? (pun intended) of fun.?

It will be tough for Davis to hang up her keys for the last time. But she plans to spend more time with her eight grandchildren. She?s thinking she might volunteer, even if she doesn?t know where yet.

And she might think about answering the call if her old team needs a substitute driver to fill in.

?When you?re on the road all your life,? she said, ?it?s hard to give that up.”

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Union says more transit police spotted on buses (Vancouver)

The union representing Coast Mountain bus drivers says transit police are finally listening and starting to put officers on buses.

Canadian Autoworkers Union local 111 president Don Macleod says it’s a change for the better and welcome by the drivers who have for years been asking for police to patrol the buses and the bus loops.

“We did meet with the chief of police and I believe the chief recognizes it makes sense to implement more of his personel onto the bus system we do get daily reports now on their actions out there.”

Macleod says it’s a good start but drivers would like to see more officers on board their coaches not only for their protection but passengers too.

Courtesy of CKNW

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Local 1700 protest Greyhound’s “Bait and Switch” at Americanos


Charging Dallas-based Greyhound is deceiving customers by putting drivers for Americanos, it?s new express service, in Greyhound uniforms and on buses branded as Greyhound Express, members of Local?1700,?which represent Greyhound bus drivers, held a protest at a Dallas bus station and the bus line?s corporate headquarters.?ATU says the safety of passengers is at stake because Americanos has lower federal driver fitness and driver safety ratings. In addition, the bus line?s actions have also cut bona fide Greyhound drivers out of schedules.?Watch story.

Moncton, NB transit workers stand strong??

Codiac Transpo transit workers, members of ATU Local?1290, continue to stand in solidarity as their contract dispute drags. The City backed out of a deal reached a year ago and the city has threatened to lockout Moncton bus drivers in reaction to the union filing an unfair bargaining complaint against the city.

?Moncton City officials have been bargaining in bad faith,? Local 1290 says on a website message to riders. ?They negotiated an agreement with your transit workers then presented it to the city council as a proposal with a recommendation to vote it down.??Read more.?Codiac Transpo bus drivers, mechanics and service workers have already voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike. They have been working without a contract since 2010.


In Memoriam: Retired International Secretary Treasurer Ray Wallace

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Retired International Secretary Treasurer Ray Wallace this week.

International President Larry Hanley called Ray “one of the people at ATU who nurtured me as an officer of my Local?Union?and I am sure that many other ATU officers and members shared my experience with him. His contributions to the ATU were great and he was held in the highest regard throughout the ATU.”

Ray will be remembered for his warmth, his intelligence and good sense. He was a true leader and made the ATU proud. His passing is a loss we all share with his family.

The funeral will be held this Saturday, May 26, details are below.

Shackelford Funeral Home
304 Crook Avenue
Henderson, TN 38340
731-989-2421
Saturday, May 26, 2012

Viewing will be at the funeral home from 1:00 ? 2:00 p.m and the funeral following right after the viewing from 2:00 p.m.

CARTA negotiations continue

Negotiations continue between?Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA)?transit workers and Veolia transportation, with Local?610ready, though hesitant, to strike.?The 210 members ? bus drivers, customer service staffers and dispatchers – have voted to authorize its leadership to call for a strike if judged necessary during negotiations.? Workers have been without contract since January of this year.

The contract talks are taking place as the?CARTA Board recently consolidated two key bus routes and some Board members are calling for a five percent budget cut and a 10-cent fare increase.

?There?s no strike planned. None of us really wants to strike,? clarified Herman Smith, president of Local 610.??We?re giving the system a chance to work. We?re still reaching out toward one another,? Smith explained.?Read more.

 

Reich: “The game is rigged”

 

 

 

 

Bus driver, passengers help woman visit her dying mother (Vancouver)

Passenger able to catch a flight with money collected on board

?BY JANE SEYD, NORTH SHORE NEWS?MAY 23, 2012
?A West Vancouver bus driver and passengers on an express bus to Horseshoe Bay are being hailed as Good Samaritans after they stepped up to get a woman to Nanaimo to see her dying mother on Mother’s Day.

The bus was heading from downtown Vancouver to the Horseshoe Bay ferry last Sun-day morning when an accident on the Lions Gate Bridge closed the bridge to traffic.

The driver had just announced to passengers that the bus would be rerouted over the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing when he was approached by a woman asking if the bus would still make it in time for the 12: 30 p.m. ferry to Nanaimo.

When the bus driver said he didn’t think so, the woman “broke down in tears,” said Gareth Rowlands, manager of the West Vancouver Blue Bus transit system.

She told the driver she’d got a phone call saying her mother – who was in hospital in Nanaimo – likely only had a few hours to live.

The woman told him she only had enough money to travel by ferry. Hearing that, another woman on the bus took up a collection from fellow passengers and were able to come up with enough money for the approximately $90 floatplane fare from Vancouver to Nanaimo.

The bus driver, an employee with 16 years’ experience, then drove the bus to drop the woman off near the float plane base in Vancouver harbour before continuing on to the Second Narrows.

Rowlands said he first learned of the incident when he heard bus drivers talking about it. The driver of the express bus gave the passengers full credit, he said.

“He said anybody else would have done the same thing. He was just glad that the lady stepped in to help,” Rowlands said.

Courtesy of the Vancouver Sun

Union asks bus drivers to reject OT to transport police during crowd-control operations

?“We believe that it is risky for our drivers to participate in such operations,” union president Denis Vaillancourt wrote in a communique posted on the union’s website on Tuesday. “Demonstrators or rioters could associate our members with police work and intimidate them.”

?We believe that it is risky for our drivers to participate in such operations,? union president Denis Vaillancourt wrote in a communique posted on the union?s website on Tuesday. ?Demonstrators or rioters could associate our members with police work and intimidate them.?

Photograph by:?Dave Sidaway , Gazette file photo

MONTREAL – The union representing the Montreal Transport Corp.?s 3,300 bus drivers is asking its membership not to work any overtime that involves transporting police during crowd-control operations.

And while the move is ostensibly based on health and safety concerns drivers may face while behind the wheel, it is also clearly linked to the adoption by the Quebec government last week of a law limiting how public demonstrations are carried out.

?We believe that it is risky for our drivers to participate in such operations,? union president Denis Vaillancourt wrote in a communique posted on the union?s website on Tuesday. ?Demonstrators or rioters could associate our members with police work and intimidate them.?

?In our opinion, the job of driving a bus in these extreme circumstances is one that belongs to police.?

However, the union?s concern for the safety of the membership was expressed along with a clear condemnation of the adoption last week by the provincial government of Bill 78, emergency legislation that requires demonstrations of 50 persons or more to provide police with an itinerary of their march in order to be deemed legal.

?Such a requirement violates the fundamental right of citizens to express themselves and demonstrate in public,? wrote Vaillancourt. ?Ultimately, this law could hamper actions taken by the union movement.

?For example, it could become very difficult to demonstrate against public private partnerships. Do you remember the demonstrations of 2005 where 1,000 members (of the local) participated? Today, those expressions of dissatisfaction would be illegal.?

Union spokesperson Tom Mouhteros said that Montreal buses had been used in the past to transport police to various crowd-control sites and occasionally serve has holding areas for those arrested.

But the recent spate of nightly demonstrations had led some of the membership?s drivers to become nervous.

?A lot of drivers have come forward said ?we?re not trained to do this?,? he said. ?We?ve had situations where buses have become caught in the middle and had their windows broken, and the drivers are saying ?we don?t have helmets.? ?

Mouhteros stressed the move was not ?against the police.?

?We?re municipal workers and so are they,? he said. ?But our people aren?t trained for this. It?s a health and security issue.?

Montreal police did not respond a request on Wednesday for an interview on the union?s stand.

jmennie@montrealgazette.com

Courtesy of?The Montreal Gazette

MP calls for tougher sentences for assaults on bus drivers

Unions says there have been 140 assaults on Lower Mainland bus drivers in the last year

BURNABY (NEWS1130) – A local MP wants to change the criminal code to better protect bus drivers from violent attacks.

The call comes less than a week after a man accused of two assaults on transit buses in the Lower Mainland was arrested.

Burnaby-New Westminster MP?Peter Julian?says there’s been a spike in attacks on bus drivers across the country and he wants to see tougher sentences for assaults. He introduced the private members bill once before but it died in the Commons. He expects it to be different this time around.

“I think there’s a consensus that we need to deal with this issue. I’ve certainly had support from a whole host of my NDP colleagues, but also from Conservatives and Liberals,” he says.

“Despite a falling crime rate there has been an increase in attacks on bus drivers and transit operators, and that’s why I believe we need to take smart action, sending a very, very clear message.”

A 19-year-old man accused of choking a bus driver in Surrey and stabbing a man on a bus in Aldergrove wascharged?last week, and a North Vancouver man will be?sentenced in April?for punching a driver in the face and breaking his orbital bone.

The union for bus drivers in the Lower Mainland says there have been 140 assaults in the last year.

Slain Metro bus driver identified (LA)


A roadside memorial is growing on Santa Monica Boulevard near West Knoll in West Hollywood where MTA bus driver Alan Thomas was shot to death.

The Metro bus driver killed while on duty over the weekend was identified Monday as Alan Thomas, 51, a five-year veteran, an MTA spokesman said.

Anthony Craig Chambers, 41, of Los Angeles, was the lone passenger on the bus when the shooting occurred about 9:10 a.m. Sunday near Santa Monica Boulevard and West Knoll Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff?s officials said.

He was booked on suspicion of murder at the West Hollywood sheriff?s station and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

?We?re kind of in shock here,? said MTA spokesman Rick Jager. ?When you lose a Metro family member, it affects everyone.?

Thomas was leaving an MTA layover area near the intersection when the shooting occurred, Jager said Sunday.

A motive for the shooting remained unclear Monday morning.

Two weapons were recovered at the scene, authorities said.

Deputies also found a suspicious package, which was removed by the bomb squad but turned out not to be an explosive device, officials said Monday morning.


Metro bus driver fatally shot by passenger in LA

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.?(AP) ? A?bus driver?was shot to death in?West Hollywood?Sunday, allegedly by a passenger who jumped out a?vehicle window?and fled down a street before being captured,?authorities?said.

The driver, whose name was not released, was hit in the torso and died at a local hospital, said sheriff’s Deputy?Jeff Gordon.

Witnesses told police they saw the shooter climb out a window and run down the street. A suspect was arrested nearby, and Gordon said the man surrendered without incident.

He was held Sunday night at the?West Hollywood?sheriff’s station while homicide detectives continued to investigate. His name was not immediately released.

Gordon said authorities believe the gunman and the driver were the only people on the bus at the time of the shooting.

He said the vehicle, which was on its regular run through the neighborhood, appeared to have stopped alongside a curb just before the driver was attacked.

Authorities didn’t immediately give a motive for the 9 a.m. PDT shooting.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials were stunned by the shooting, which occurred just blocks from the route of Sunday’s Amgen Tour of California bicycle race.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever known this to happen in my career here,” the MTA’s chief executive officer, Art Leahy, told the Los Angeles Times.

The street where the shooting occurred, busy Santa Monica Boulevard, was closed for hours as TV news video showed police searching the bus.

Two firearms were recovered.

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