Archive for May, 2013

Transit’s electronic fare boxes go online Friday May the 31st

YWG busAfter waiting for a good time, finally the digital fares boxes are making its debut.

Eight of Winnipeg Transit’s buses have been equipped with the machines.

Winnipeg Transit’s long-awaited electronic fare boxes will begin to go online on Friday.

Eight of Winnipeg Transit’s 565 buses have been equipped with the $20,000 machines that accept coins, issue transfers and — late this year — will start reading programmable smart cards.

?All transit buses will have the new readers by early July, transit plant manager Tony Dreolini said.

The smart card readers will go online by December, if not earlier. Before they do, transfers and tickets will be accepted manually and riders with passes may continue to show them to drivers.

The entire technological upgrade, originally envisioned in 2003, cost $17.8 million.

It took longer than expected to implement because the mobile technology did not yet exist, Dreolini said.

The new transfers issued by the machines are smaller and feature QR codes.

Like everything else in life patience and understanding are expecting from the public specially going on a digital era, although this system has been used in several cities around the world and has demonstrated to be a successful tool.

Digital fareboxes

Brampton bus driver taken to hospital after fight with passenger

A Brampton Transit bus driver was taken to hospital after a fight broke out between the driver and a passenger Tuesday afternoon.

Peel police received the call at about 1 p.m. and arrested the male passenger after he fled on foot near Queen St. E. and Kennedy Rd. N.

The bus driver was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, police said.

No charges have been laid yet, but they are expected, police said.

Assault on Brampton bus driver

Help needed for victims of OK City tornado

When Mother Nature unleashed her wrath with Hurricane Sandy, ATU members stepped up ? as we always do ? to help our brothers and sisters impacted by donating the?ATU Disaster Relief Fund.

Now, it’s happened again.OK Tornado

 

What may have been the worst tornado in history savaged an area around Oklahoma City. The devastating wind and rocketing debris wreaked havoc, shattering houses and flattening supposedly solid school buildings. The cyclone left hundreds injured, and at least 24 residents ? including nine schoolchildren ? dead in its wake.

Unfortunately, homes and property of ATU brothers and sisters and their families in the area were destroyed and damaged, as well. We are still hearing reports as the clean up continues.

When a crisis hits, ATU members do what they do every day on the job, in their communities, and in their places of worship. They just help out. You can help your brothers and sisters who have been hurt by this year?s tornados by contributing to the ATU Disaster Relief Fund.

Donations can be made online by visiting?www.atu.org, or by mailing a check to:Amalgamated Transit Union?Disaster Relief Fund,?5025 Wisconsin, Ave., N.W.?Washington, DC? 20016,?Attn: Lawrence J. Hanley

U.S. Contributors:?Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Disaster relief grants available to Union Plus participants

Union Plus Disaster Relief Grants of $500 are available to help participants in the Union Plus Credit Card, Insurance or Mortgage programs who are facing financial hardship due to the tornado that struck the Oklahoma City area. More information is available at?UnionPlus.org/Disaster.

Transit support crosses party lines in Washington state

Transit WashingtonAs ATU teams with transit advocates to fight proposed transit cuts in King County, glimmers of bipartisan light emerged in Olympia, WA when at least three Republican state legislators rallied at the capitol with citizens advocating gas tax and fee increases to pay for roads, ferries, mass transit and other improvements.

The turnaround has come about because the three GOP lawmakers want to pay for an extension of state Route 167 from Payallup to the Port of Takoma with some of the transportation money.

Democrats such as the chair of the House Transportation Committee, Gov. Jay Inslee, and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck want it approved in the Washington Legislature this year. ?State Rep. Hans Zeiger, R, who voted against gas tax increase last year says, ?We are so close to getting this passed.??Read more

?Atlanta local calls out MARTA on safety

Local?732-Atlanta, GA, warned MARTA riders of safety concerns in the city?s transit system in an oped published in?Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Local President Curtis Howard charges that the agency has ignored their warnings about safety problems, and ?is behaving very much like private companies that seek to take over public properties: It is skimping on safety, putting unsafe buses on the road and ignoring its own safety rules, hoping that no one will notice.?

Howard revealed that ?Nearly 30 buses per day have problems that should have been ? could have been ? addressed before the buses posed a danger.?

Local 732 sent a MARTA a 300-page comprehensive complaint to 30 city, state and federal agencies and our elected officials. MARTA?s General Manager Parker?s response was to implore ?ATU to send a joint letter to the Federal Transit Administration saying that the ATU and MARTA were working together to fix the problems.?

?Since that would have been a lie,? Howard writes, ?I rejected Mr. Parker?s request as too late, a possible backdoor attempt at a safety cover-up. We have tried repeatedly to get MARTA to address these serious concerns. Sadly, we have been met with silence.?

In a piece published with ATU?s Parker acknowledged ?the need to do more to improve the overall reliability, appearance and safety of our buses, trains and Mobility vehicles.?

Unfortunately, because all of this is taking place against the backdrop of a campaign by state legislators to privatize MARTA, it may be difficult for the local to trust the agency enough to work with it on any joint endeavor.?Read more


Milwaukee members join ?Fight for 15?

Milwaukee membersLocal?998-Milwaukee, WI, was out in force recently in a demonstration in support of the organizing campaign of fast food and retail workers in their city.?The ?Fight for 15? drive is a nationwide effort initiated by the Service Employees to force low-wage employers like McDonald?s to raise worker compensation to $15/hr.

At left, Local President Al Simonis and Financial Secretary Pat Clemmons join the rally in front of Milwaukee County Court House.?Read more

The fight for a living wage is also being waged with rolling strikes and marches in Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Portland local appeals decision against open bargaining

Local?757-Portland, OR, is awaiting the results of its appeal of a decision by a Multnomah County judge that state law does not require collective bargaining to be open to the public. The legal dispute is just the latest in a series of disagreements between the local and Tri-Met, Portland?s transit agency.

The ruling, however, doesn?t prevent the two sides from inviting whomever they agree on to observe the negotiations.?But Tri-Met is attempting to control that list with a set group of newspapers, radio and TV stations, the labor press and at least one Portland transit blogger.

Local President Bruce Hansen says the local wants the proceedings to be open to all, accusing the agency of cherry-picking media outlets.

The local has also gone to the state Employment Relations Board to challenge an arbitrator?s imposition of a contract, by an arbitrator, that increases member health plan co-pays to 10%, among other increases.

The local?s last contract expired November 20.?ATU and the agency are not expected begin bargaining on a new contract until August at the earliest.?Read more


Not your father?s union song

Fathers songThe winner of the Canadian Labour Congress?s 2013 ?One Minute Message Contest? created a video that should appeal to a younger generation of workers than have been typically associated with the labour movement.?We think you?ll enjoy watching it.?View??

City scrambling for more bus drivers

MacNab Bus Terminal

Hamilton Spectator file photoHamilton terminal

The MacNab Street bus terminal.
ByMatthew Van Dongen

Hamilton is in the midst of the biggest bus driver hiring spree in city history as it tries to make good on service improvements promised a year ago.

The city wants to train and hire up to 68 new operators this year ? and as many as possible before March 25, when HSR plans to ramp up bus frequency along overcrowded corridors such as King Street and Upper Kenilworth Avenue.

Council approved an extra $3 million last year to beef up bus service, but the city couldn?t hire new bus drivers fast enough, said transit director Don Hull.

SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS

?We?re at the point where we?re losing drivers almost faster than we can hire,? said Hull, who noted baby boomers started turning 65 last year. ?We?re on the edge of that boomer retirement cliff.?

The city hired 24 new drivers last year, but 18 others retired. Hull didn?t know offhand the average age of the city?s 431 drivers, but he said about 30 of them could retire this year. He anticipates a similar trend over the next few years.

That?s why the transit service is hitting the gas on recruitment in advance of the March service changes. Just improving peak period bus frequency to every six minutes instead of seven on Route 1 will require nine new drivers, for example.

?It?s the biggest hiring in corporate memory,? said Hull, who added the city has also doubled the number of driving trainers to four. ?Our classrooms are full and we?re going to be running the (training) school at full capacity for the rest of the year.?

Hull said the city can?t afford to put off service improvements any longer, despite a 3 per cent ridership increase in 2011. ?You can?t be planning for LRT when you?re leaving people standing on the street corner,? he said.

That happened to Peter Hutton twice Tuesday as he waited for a bus at Main Street and Emerson Street.

?I was bypassed twice at the same spot around 11 a.m. The buses were too full,? said the member of the Hamilton Transit Users Group. ?So yes, I?d say the service improvements are long overdue.?

Hutton said users have been complaining about buses ?bursting at the seams? along busy routes such as the King Street corridor for several years. Between 2006 and 2009, a majority of the 4,400 complaints fielded by the city were related to service levels.

Students will appreciate greater frequency along the Upper Kenilworth route, which passes by Mohawk College, said student association president Dan Clark.

?That gives everyone greater flexibility in their schedules, which believe me, everyone will appreciate,? he said. Clark added he is hearing fewer student complaints about overcrowded buses, too, thanks to extra peak buses already added to near-college routes.

Hutton said he?s glad the city is starting to ?think about their existing riders? in addition to long-term expansion plans.

He wishes the beefed-up service had rolled in last year ? but Hutton doesn?t begrudge the extra time needed to train new drivers. ?Hey, it?s a tough job, and an important one,? he said. ?I?d rather they get that part right.?

Service improvements as of March 25:

Route 1 ? King Street

Weekdays?at peak and midday: buses every six minutes (from 7.5) between Eastgate Square and downtown

Late evening?service on weekdays and weekends every 20 minutes (instead of 30 minutes)

Sundays?midday service every 10 minutes (from 12).

Route 1A ? through McMaster

Weekday?midday and peak time service every 12 minutes (instead of 15)

Routes 21 and 33 (Upper Kenilworth and Sanatorium)

Weekdays, midday service every 20 minutes (from 30)

Route 56 ? Confederation Park

New seven days a week, year-round pilot service to newly opened Walmart on Centennial Parkway

So you want to be a bus driver?

HSR plans to hire up to 68 bus drivers this year. Here?s the lowdown:

Requirements:

A clean driving record;

? Grade 10 education;

? 21 years of age or older;

? Two years of ?customer service experience?;

? Successful completion of 26-day course to get Class ?B? license;

Highlights:

? $24-an-hour starting salary;

? 35-44 hour work weeks;

? Regular shifts start as early as 4:30 a.m.; end as late as 2:30 a.m.

Source: City of Hamilton

Internet sales tax would fund transit

Internet taxATU is pushing Congress to pass the bipartisan Senate-passed Internet Sales Tax bill, which would provide millions in critical funding for many cash-strapped public transit systems.

The proposed legislation, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, gives states and local governments the ability to impose state and local sales taxes on Internet sales at the exact same rates as brick and mortar ones.?Many local transit agencies rely on sales taxes so a larger sales tax base would provide more funding for public transportation.?Read more.

ATU President Larry Hanley said the legislation would provide “much needed funding to meet ? rising demand” for public transportation. “Many local transit agencies rely on sales taxes so a larger sales tax base would provide more funding for public transportation.?

Contact your Member of Congress to urge them to support the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 by clicking?here.

Attention female ATU members: Take part in women’s health survey

Health on the job is critical to all ATU members, but very little research has been done to understand?how shift work specifically affects women.?The demands placed on women?s bodies while working and balancing home life can have serious health consequences. There has been some suggestion that female shift workers may be at greater risk for ill-health effects.

That is why the National Center for Intermodal Transportation at the University of Denver is working with the ATU to conduct a study to assess women?s health issues.

The participation of female ATU members is needed to provide researchers and policy makers with information to better understand the relationship between shift work and health effects on women.?Please help us better understand these issues by clicking?here?to take a brief online survey.

BART workers’ contract talks begin on a heated note

 

Four years after agreeing to a wage freeze and reduced employer contributions to their health and retirement plans, bart workersBART workers are back at the table for contract talks that appear as though they could be more toxic than in 2009, when there were repeated threats of work stoppages and strikes.

ATU Local?1555-Oakland is well prepared for the negotiations and plans to fight to for the best interests of its members and BART riders after making sacrifices years ago to help the transit agency. ?We want a fair and equitable contract,? said Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant. ?We?re doing this so our members can continue to live in the Bay Area.??Read more.

Alameda County details how transit cuts harm health

Do cuts to public transit impact riders? health? A new study?by the Alameda County Health has found serious detrimental effects due to public transit cuts, and officials hopes to influence the future of transportation in the Bay Area.

The report surveyed transit-dependent riders in Alameda County. The Bay Area as a whole has experienced an 8 percent cut to bus service between 2006 and 2011. ?Researchers found more than 8 in 10 say they have more difficulty getting to their jobs, social activities, school or doctors office.

One rider summed it well. ?It?s not good for physical and mental health,? he says. ?It wasn?t good for my spiritual health too, because I couldn?t get to church. A lot of the bus cuts were around International Boulevard where my church is.??Read more.

Americans suffer while finance tax waits for Congress’ attention

American sufferAs working Americans continue to suffer and the sequester forces more budget cuts, Congress continues to ignore the proposed financial transaction tax, which would place a small tax on derivatives and other forms of speculation. The “Robin Hood” tax, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., would generate more than $300 billion a year in revenue.

?The legislation even has received broad support from people such as Warren Buffett, Eliot Spitzer, and Larry Summers. Many ATU members and Robin Hood supporters gathered in Washington, DC calling on Congress to pass the bill.

?We?re losing transit as a result of what?s happened to our economy, as a result of the fact that our government has seen fit to bail out banks but not people,? ATU International President Larry Hanley explained to the crowd of protesters wearing Robin Hood hats. ?Let me tell you, there?s something perverse in a nation that sees fit to slash transit services to people who need it, at a time when people are losing their jobs and have fewer cars.”?Read more.

Riders to Pierce Transit: “You’re messing with our life”

Pierce Transit?s board is getting set to vote on a 28 percent cut in annual service hours, and riders and the public expressed serious concerns about the proposed cuts at a recent board meeting.?

Citizens told the board members that riders depend on buses to get to work, the grocery store, the doctor?s office and church and the service cuts would be devastating.

Greg Dansen said Pierce Transit should give priority to elderly and disabled people. ?As a society, we need to look out for these people,? he said.

Under the plan buses and shuttles will run less often and for fewer hours, especially on the weekends. Cher Norman, of Lakewood, wondered how she?d get to church and medical appointments.? ?You?re messing with our life,? she told the board.?Read more.

Does this job make me look fat?

Some jobs are bad news for the waistline and a new survey has revealed bus driving as the most weight-inducing occupation in the U.S.,?Today.com?reveals.

The?Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which took into account a random sample of 138,438 employees aged 18 or over, found that 36.4per cent of transport workers were obese.

More than one in four factory workers, office staff and, surprisingly nurses were also found to be dangerously overweight – the result of poor pay, unhealthy diets, a lack of exercise and a history of depression.

Read full article:?Does this job make me look fat

Driving up obesity

 

Bus driver gets deer as surprise passenger

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. ?

A bus driver in western Pennsylvania had a surprise passenger Tuesday night when a deer crashed through the windshield.

The bus driver John Porter said, ?Just out of the blue, something out of the corner of my eye, I saw something come through the window and a deer was there.?

Officials said the deer ran around the public bus in Johnstown for about 20 seconds before the driver opened the door and the deer got off.

?It was kicking around pretty good,? said Porter.

The bus was only carrying one passenger at the time. Porter said the woman was on the phone at the time and was a little shaken up.

?I think she was more worried about how she was going to get home,? Porter said.

Porter said his hands were cut by broken glass, but he breathed a sigh of relief when the unexpected passenger ran off.

Porter was anxious to see the video after the incident and told his supervisor that he wanted a copy before it went viral.

The bus was taken in for repairs.

Bus driver gets deer

TTC defends driver after woman screams to be let off bus

The TTC is standing behind one of its drivers after a video was posted on YouTube on Monday of a female passenger not being allowed to exit the back doors of a bus.

The incident took place on Saturday while a section of the Yonge subway line was shut down. Shuttle buses were running along Yonge Street from Union to Bloor stations, causing heavy traffic.

During the three-minute and 47 second video the woman yells repeatedly at the bus driver to let her off the packed bus, which is stopped at the intersection of Yonge and Maitland streets, because she?s going to be ill.

Throughout the incident the driver refuses to open the back door but calmly tells the woman to exit the crowded bus through the front entrance.

Watch the video?TTC defends bus operator

Time for TARTA to address bus drivers’ bathroom breaks

 

 

Tarta Driver?TARTA is the poster child for this dangerous and unknown problem of inadequate bathroom breaks, which is plaguing bus drivers across the country. It?s a matter of a driver?s health and dignity, but also a serious safety concern for riders and drivers,? wrote ATU International President Larry Hanley and Local?697?? Toledo Business Agent/Financial Secretary Cynthia Betz in an op-ed published in the Toledo Blade.

The piece highlights how bus schedules are designed by computers that allow drivers no time to use the bathroom and points out research showing that driving while holding your bladder for an extended period of time has similar cognitive effects as 24 hours without sleep or a .05 percent blood-alcohol content.

Hanley and Betz also discuss how a Canadian driver was suspended for using the bathroom and a Portland, OR driver was run over by her own bus and killed when she rushed to use the bathroom at the end of her shift and forgot to properly set the parking brake.?Read more.

Atlanta transit workers call for investigation into plan to privatize

As the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) board plans to move forward to privatize the system?s paratransit service, MARTA workers, members of ATU Local?732?? Atlanta, called for an outside investigation into MARTA, its CEO Keith Parker and chair of the board Fred Daniels for moving ahead on ?giving away the transit system our seniors, people with disabilities and working Atlantans rely on to private companies based on an incomplete, faulty report issued by KPMG.?

Noted economist Dr. Elliot Sclar discussed his rebuttal to the KPMG report recommending privatizing MARTA, saying that: ?The methods used in [the KPMG] report were flawed on multiple fronts?Public decision makers should be provided with full, not partial, information if they are expected to accurately assess the opportunities and challenges facing MARTA. This report fails by the standard of its own stated goals.??Watch story.


ATU fighting for stiffer penalties for attacks on transit workersAttack on bus operators

With assaults on bus drivers increasing and now being considered ?part of the job,? ATU has continued to step up efforts to call for stiffer penalties for attackers and more protection for workers on the job.

In Canada, leaders of the Canadian Council went to Ottawa to push legislators to strengthen the deterrent against violence on transit workers through an amendment to the Criminal Code that would mandate that an assault on on-duty transit operators qualify as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.?Read more.

“It’s becoming increasingly more dangerous for our members to do their jobs,” says ATU Canadian Council Director Mike Mahar. “The frequency and severity of attacks on on-duty transit workers continues to rise. In Canada, 40 percent of bus operators are assaulted on duty during the course of their careers.”

Meanhwhile ATU Local?268?? Cleveland has worked with State Sens. Nina Turner and Tom Patton to introduce a new bill that calls for a stiffer fine, jail time and a possible ban from public transit for assaulting a transit worker.?Read more.


Unions can play powerful role in politics

As ATU showed in the 2012 elections in helping President Obama and many transit-friendly candidates get elected and re-elected, organized labor still plays a critical role in political races.

In the upcoming Pittsburgh mayoral race, ATU and unions are once again flexing their political power. A recent local newspaper poll showed about 45 percent of 400 likely Democratic voters surveyed said they or someone in their household is affiliated with a union.

ATU and other unions are out in force educating their members through phone calls and literature. Many are also organizing volunteer committees to contact voters on behalf of their endorsed candidates and encouraging members to talk to relatives and neighbors. This bodes well as the 2014 mid-term elections are going to be critical for working families.?Read more.


 

Calgary Transit busCalgary Transit eyes camera upgrade to enhance safety

ATU Local?583?? Calgary is supporting Calgary Transit?s plans to equip its buses with better cameras that would enhance rider and driver safety.

The current cameras cover few areas of the bus, record very little footage and have to be triggered by hard braking or the driver. The proposed upgrades would offer multiple lenses to cover more angles of the bus and longer record times for officials to review.

Local 583 President Doug Johannes says the new technology is needed. ?There are still lots of assaults. I would say the average bus driver is assaulted every, single day, whether that?s verbally ? they?re told by the public where to go and how to do it ? or physically.??Read more.


DC transit workers to fight privatization of circulator bus

ATU Local?689?? Washington is waging a battle to fight against possible plans to privatize and expand the city?s Circulator bus service, a lower fare bus service that runs some of the same routes as other Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) buses. The Circulator, run by the city, was created to transport visitors only around the city?s tourist areas.

The transit workers are gearing up for a campaign with Washington, DC transit advocates to educate riders about how outsourcing the Circulator bus service could jeopardize the service, safety and reliability of bus service.?Read more.


Vancouver bus driver encourages passengers to say hi

TransLink’s Brian Revel wants to return basic civility to his route.

For the past year, Brian Revel has been working to create a social revolution.

While that statement may sound wildly ambitious, Revel is smart enough to know that successful revolutions begin at the grassroots level.

That?s why he?s turning his Vancouver city bus into a community experiment to bring basic human interaction back into the fold ? even if it?s little more than a friendly hello on a TransLink vehicle.

As CTV News notes, Revel personally greets each passenger that enters his bus and encourages them to introduce each other to the person next to them.

In the iPod era, this is nothing short of shocking.

?Whether we like it or not riding the bus is a kind of micro-community and if we could just get people to take their iPods off and say hello, just hello?? he tells the news network.

As smartphones transform us into mute, dissociated technology slaves, Revel has a dream of hearing the sweet sound of conversation along his route.

And while his goal may sound simple, he?s one of the few people left who are actively trying to do something about it.

?I hope what people are getting out of it is a sense of community and opportunity to actually interact with other people,? he says.

Revolutions have started over less.

Watch the video:?Vancouver bus driver encourages public to say Hi

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