Archive for August, 2013

Bill targets brutality on buses

MP seeks to have penalties raised for those who physically abuse drivers

Transit mechanics inspect a bus that was torched after its female driver was assaulted by teenage girls at Commercial and Napier in 2007.

Transit mechanics inspect a bus that was torched after its female driver was assaulted by teenage girls at Commercial and Napier in 2007.

Bus drivers in B.C. have been choked, punched and jabbed with dirty needles.

The complaints came out on Friday at a roundtable discussion in Burnaby seeking ways to stiffen penalties for convicted assailants.

“A sleepy little town like Kelowna has had two serious incidents in a month and a half,” said Les Milton, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents transit drivers in Kelowna and Merritt.

“One (driver) suffered a broken jaw and the other was stabbed with a dirty needle,” he said.

Saskatchewan MP Ralph Goodale (Liberal-Wascana) is trying to get the penalties increased through a private member’s bill he has submitted to Parliament.

“Bus drivers are required to put themselves in vulnerable circumstances,” he told the meeting. “This legislation is necessary and urgent.”

Goodale’s bill calls for the “aggravated” nature of the assaults on “vulnerable employees” be taken into account during sentencing.

Coast Mountain bus driver Gordon Dunkley spent six frightening weeks waiting to find out if a spitting woman had infected him with HIV on a Vancouver route.

“My whole world came crashing down,” he said. “It felt like a bullet fired at me.

“I couldn’t talk to my wife and kids. I couldn’t focus on anything except what I was going through,” said Dunkley, whose test results were negative. He has since returned to driving.

The most aggravated case was related by Coast Mountain driver Lori Jackart, 42.

She is still trying to get her life together three years after drunken passenger Colin Moore tried to strangle her on a Maple Ridge route. “I have erratic, disturbed sleep. I don’t celebrate anything anymore, including Christmas,” she said.

“My children lie in constant fear their mother is going to have a nervous breakdown,” said Jackart, who has forced herself to return to driving.

Moore, 39 at the time, was given house arrest for three months and nine months probation.

Jackart said she hopes the private member’s bill will be approved.

“More of a deterrent would help,” she said.

57th ATU International Convention kicks off Monday

ATU LogoATU delegates from across North America have begun arriving in San Diego, CA for the 57th International Convention that begins Monday, August 26 and runs through Friday, August 30.? The theme of the Convention ? So Much More ? reflects our conviction that while we have accomplished so much since our founding in 1892, we have only begun to realize the full potential of our international union.

ATU delegates will elect international officers for the next three years, hear from notable speakers, address the 21st Century challenges faced by Labor and the transportation industry, and make plans to create a brighter future for transit and allied workers.

In San Diego, delegates will be taking part in the first-ever ATU Convention Training Academy.?This innovative educational experience is part of the Union?s continuing efforts to enhance the skills and abilities of our local officers and members as they confront new challenges facing transit workers and the industry.

Members can keep up to date with Convention actions and activities by visiting the?convention websiteand?Facebook?and follow?@ATUcomm?throughout the week.

Another day, another tour bus accident

Here we go again?a casino-bound tour bus rolled over injuring more than 50 in Southern California.

While the cause of the crash is still being investigated, the Chinese tour bus operator DaBus accident Zhen has been has been flagged for its unsafe driving, poor safety record and other violations.?The federal government says the company could be subject to more frequent surprise inspections.?Read more.

According to ATU?s “Sudden Death Overtime” the NTSB has found driver fatigue to be the number one cause of motorcoach bus accidents. The ATU has been urging Congress to pass the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which would extend the overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to over-the-road drivers.

The intercity bus industry was deregulated in the U.S. years ago, resulting in the opening of many small “fly-by-night” operators like Da Zhen that have been involved in motorcoach accidents ? the deadly Bronx crash that killed 15 and the Virginia bus crash that took four lives.

?How many more deaths are necessary before the U.S. government and bus companies recognize that overtime provisions must be enacted for bus drivers to ensure passenger and driver safety?? said ATU President Larry Hanley.


ATU helps new Canadian bill to protect bus drivers gain momentum

An OC Transpo bus driver, who suffered a cut on his nose when he was punched in the face by a passenger, told members of Parliament that the repeat offender should have received a stiffer penalty than a 120-day jail sentence.

ATU has been campaigning to urge politicians to pass legislation to strengthen the deterrent against violence on transit workers through an amendment to the Criminal Code that would make an assault of on-duty transit operators an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

The roundtable was organized by Ralph Goodale, an MP from Saskatchewan who introduced a private member?s bill to protect on-duty bus drivers against assaults through harsher penalties for their attackers.

ATU Canadian Council Director Mike Mahar?told the roundtable ?There are so many stories, it brings tears to a person?s eyes when you interview some of these victims, who end up being off for months and months and months, and many of them career-ending (injuries).??Read more.

AC Transit workers vote down contract

Weeks after averting a strike by an hour, AC Transit workers overwhelmingly voted to reject a proposed labor contract from management.

“Our members spoke out loud and clear,” said Yvonne Williams, president of Local?192, which represents more than 1,300 bus drivers, mechanics and other transit workers.

No date has been announced for contract talks to resume.?Read more.

NJ bill calls for stiffer jitney regulation after death of 8-month old

NJ BillThe tragic death of an 8-month old in a jitney bus accident prompted NJ state senators to introduce legislation to?increase oversight and regulation of commuter vans.

?Angelie?s Law? (S2950) is a bill named in memory of Angelie Paredes, the 8-month old who was killed in her stroller in West New York when a commuter van struck a lamp post that fell on her. ?The bill would increase the amount of insurance required for jitney buses; force jitney buses to register with the municipalities in which they operate; and require that jitney bus drivers have a valid commercial driver’s license. A similar bill was introduced in the State Assembly.

ATU’s New Jersey Council, which has long fighting to expose unsafe jitneys, has joined with state lawmakers to push for stricter regulations for drivers and more oversight of this industry.? NJ members will be launching a campaign to educate riders about why these commuter buses are a serious safety hazard and urge them to call their state legislator to support this bill and other legislation.?Read more.

Phoenix area study finds riders want more, better public transit

Residents in Northwest Phoenix expressed a desire to have more access to local retail centers, hospitals and medical offices by public transit according to a study by the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The year long?Northwest Valley Local Transit Study was conducted to address the area?s transportation needs for the next 20 years, identifying ways to ease congestion and improve public transportation. The recommendations are expected to develop a three-phased plan to address the area?s transportation needs.?Read more.

Seattle bus driver shot, ATU renews call for better security

Seatle driver shotAnother day, another violent attack on a transit worker. This time a King County Metro Transit bus driver was shot twice during the morning rush hour on Monday. The suspect, who was found to be mentally disturbed, was gunned down by police while trying to board another bus and later died from his wounds.

The driver, Local?587-Seattle, WA, member Deloy Dupuis, thankfully suffered only minor wounds and was treated and released from the hospital the same day.

ATU has been calling for transit agencies across North America to address this disturbing trend of increased attacks for the safety of both drivers and riders. Metro Transit drivers reported 107 attacks in 2012, a sharp increase over the 85 reported by drivers in 2010. New York City, Winnipeg, Portland and other cities have seen increases in violent incidents involving transit workers.

ATU has been advocating for driver bus shields with bulletproof glass and other safety measures, including left side doors for quick driver exits from a bus, an increased number of police officers and other security enhancements.

ATU mourns loss of friend and ally Bill Lynch

?The ATU family, many of whom have been friends of Bill’s for decades mourn the loss of one of our greatest friends and allies in the fight for justice,? said ATU International Billy LynchPresident Larry Hanley about the loss of his longtime friend and ally Bill Lynch.

Lynch served as a deputy to former Mayor David Dinkins and for 40 years played an active role in city, state and national politics and was influential in Nelson Mandela?s historic visit to New York City in 1990. He also worked with the ATU on various campaigns. Lynch was known to have a deep commitment to social justice and philanthropy, serving on the boards of various organizations, such as the Children’s Defense Fund.

At Lynch?s funeral many recalled his uncanny political mind and lifelong commitment to the underdog. ‘Today we say goodbye to the greatest man I have ever known,’ said Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor, who Lynch helped get elected.?Read more.

Final preparations for ATU 57th Convention underway

 

Milwaukee membersThe ATU will hold its 57th International Convention in San Diego, CA from August 26 ? 30, 2013.? The theme of the Convention ? So Much More ? reflects our conviction that while we have accomplished so much since our founding in 1892, we have only begun to realize the full potential of our international union.

ATU delegates from local unions all over Canada and the United States are convening to address the challenges faced by Labor and the transportation industry, and chart a brighter future for transit and allied workers. The first-ever ATU Convention Training Academy will be part of the week?s busy activities.?This Academy is part of our ongoing efforts to both broaden our outreach and provide access to relevant training and education programs.

Members can keep up to date with Convention activities by visiting the?convention website?and ATU’sFacebook page?and by following us on?Twitter?throughout the week.

St. Louis transit workers accept pay increases, reject changes to benefits

St. Louis transit workers voted to accept the recommendation of a neutral mediator?s Pay increasedecision on pensions and a pay increase, but rejected changes to health insurance.

Local?788, representing 1,200 MetroBus drivers, MetroLink operators, mechanics and clerical workers, are currently engaged in arbitration over a new contract.?Workers haven?t had a raise in five years. The mediator ruled that Metro?s plan to move workers from a pension to a 401K would not work.

ATU Local 788 President Mike Breihan said that Metro wants to take retirees off Metro’s medical coverage and put them into a Health Retirement Account, which could possibly run retirees? costs up. Breihan said, ?We are ready now to go back to the table with Metro.??Read more.

SECOND MISSISSAUGA BUS DRIVER CITED FOR USING WASHROOM


Transit union says agency?s washroom policy continues to violate human rights, endanger public

Mississauga, ON – In another blatant violation of basic human rights and dignity, a Mississauga bus driver was cited by Mississauga Transit for taking time to use the washroom while on duty. This Mississauga Transit policy not only violates human rights, but could endanger the safety of the public and the health of drivers, according to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1572, which represents Mississauga bus operators.

?This is the second time in 16 months that a bus driver was cited for using the washroom,? said ATU Local 1572 President Nicholas Bye. ?Imagine not being able to use the bathroom at work when nature calls and then getting in trouble for doing so. It?s outrageous and a serious violation of the rights of our bus drivers.?

In this latest incident, an operator was cited for departing three minutes late from a station for using the bathroom. Washroom facilities are only available the beginning and end of his route, which takes approximately 64 minutes each way. His supervisor humiliated the driver by telling him ?you are using the washroom too many times and are delaying service? and embarrassed him further saying, ?maybe something is wrong with you, you should see a doctor.?

MT uses computer-generated bus routes, which are timed so tight, with no breaks, that many operators have a difficult time keeping the route on schedule even without using a bathroom.

?This is the problem with the system ? the computer generating the schedules doesn?t recognize that maybe a bus driver might need a few extra minutes on his or her route to use the bathroom while on duty,? Bye continued. ?All management cares about is about getting the buses from point A to point B as quickly as possible, ignoring drivers? basic human right.?

According to a study in?Neurourology and Urodynamics?an extreme urge to use the bathroom has similar cognitive effects as 24 hours without sleep or a .05% blood alcohol content. In addition, extreme urine retention can lead to urinary tract infections, bladder damage, and kidney disease.

?This is also a matter of the safety and security of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers on the road,? Bye continued. ?A bus driver forced to ?hold it? has the same effect as a driver having a couple drinks before work or missing a night?s sleep. Furthermore it put our drivers? health at risk.?

This is the second incident in 16 months In April 2012 ATU filed a grievance on behalf of the disciplined driver, who was cited by the company for ?deliberate delay of service for using washroom facilities.? At the hearing in response to the union grievance company officials argued, ?we can?t give every operator carte blanche to go to the washroom and be late, that would be chaos.? The case is currently in arbitration.

The union has been fighting to change the transit system policy on washroom breaks since 1988.

?Unfortunately Mississauga Transit is the poster child for this dangerous and unknown problem of inadequate bathroom breaks plaguing bus drivers across the North America,? said Bye. ?It?s time for the authority to address for health and dignity of drivers and safety of riders and the public.?

About the ATU ?

The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.????

 

Gunman who shot Metro bus driver in downtown Seattle dies

Police line do not crossThe man suspected of shooting a Metro bus driver before being shot by police has died, Seattle police said this afternoon.

A law-enforcement source?identified the gunman as Martin A. Duckworth, 31.

Police say Duckworth shot the?Metro bus driver this morning in downtown Seattle?during a confrontation. Duckworth was then shot by police after he boarded a second?bus, Seattle police said.

The bus driver, 64, was shot around 8:45 a.m. while the Route 27 bus was at Third Avenue?near?University Street, but his injuries were not life-threatening, police said, and he has since been released from Harborview Medical Center.

Harborview confirmed the driver?s name is Deloy Dupuis. ?King County Executive Dow Constantine, who visited Dupuis at Harborview this morning, said he was ?remarkably upbeat? despite wounds to his face and arm. He has been a driver for Metro since 1999.

Seattle police Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh said two officers were?near Third?and University when they were contacted by people who had been on the bus in which the driver was shot. One officer assisted the wounded driver while the other chased the gunman?south on Third, McDonagh said. The man ran west on University, firing at the officer,?McDonagh said. Later in the day, Acting Police Chief Jim Pugel said the man pointed the gun but that only ?clicks? might have come from the revolver he was carrying.After running south on Second Avenue, the man boarded, along with other passengers,?a bus stopped on Seneca Street at the intersection, police said.

A law-enforcement source identified Martin A. Duckworth, 31, as the shooter. (Department of Corrections photo, March 2013)

A law-enforcement source identified Martin A. Duckworth, 31, as the shooter. (Department of Corrections photo, March 2013)

Officers converged on the bus and opened fire on the suspect, McDonagh said. About a dozen bullet holes were visible on the front of the bus.

Four officers, including two who were off-duty, ? ?A law-enforcement source identified Martin A. Duckworth, 31, as the shooter. (Department of Corrections photo, March 2013)?opened fire when the man raised his gun,?then fired again when he raised the gun a second time, Pugel said.

Duckworth suffered what were said to be life-threatening wounds. He also was taken to Harborview, where he died this afternoon.

McDonagh said officers had to make a difficult decision when they fired at the bus, which held about 15 passengers.

?I believe they made the right choice,? McDonagh said, describing the situation as ?dangerous and dynamic.? McDonagh called the shooting of the bus driver rare.

Pugel said the incident began when three people got on the first bus at the rear door.

When the driver asked them to pay at the front of the bus, two got off and came to the front to pay, Pugel said.bus-shooting-c

But the third, identified as the gunman, stayed on the bus and paced back and forth before approaching the driver, Pugel said.

The suspect then ?physically assaulted? the driver and shot him at least twice, Pugel said.

Duckworth was?placed on state Department of Corrections community supervision after a drug-case conviction in King County in October 2011 and completed the supervision April 15,? Chad Lewis, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said today.

On his?Facebook page, Duckworth said he was a self-employed barber.

Police said a 32-year-old officer, who was among those who fired,?suffered minor injuries in the incident, possibly from broken glass. A second officer, who is in his 50s, was also taken to Harborview for treatment for an undisclosed medical condition, police said.

A female passenger sustained minor bruising while evacuating the second bus, police said.

A witness who had gotten on the first bus just before the shooting said she saw the gunman yelling in the driver?s face. The gunman got off the bus, but then stepped back on and shot the driver five times, once in the jaw, the witness told Seattle Times photographer Steve Ringman.

The gunman then ran away, the witness said.

Jeff Harris, 50, of Seattle, who works at a business at Third and University Street, said he was putting money in a parking meter when he heard five gunshots. Harris said he then saw a bearded man running on University and thought the man was going to steal his car. Harris said he ran as the man tried without success to get into other cars parked on the street.

Police were chasing the man and repeatedly ordering him to drop a gun, Harris said.

The armed man then ran south on Second Avenue and got on a Metro bus near Seneca Street, Harris said. Police shot the man on the bus or as he was getting on the bus, Harris said.

Jason Sykes, an attorney who works in the 1201 Building at Third and Seneca, also said he saw police chase the gunman.

?He?s got something in his hand. And I look up at the bus, and all I can see is everyone in the bus in sheer panic. People are just running and pushing toward the back and literally spilling out of the windows.?

One strike ends and another averted, but BART workers see little progress

 

Strike

After marathon negotiation sessions, deals were reached in the Phoenix area to end a strike and in Oakland, CA to avert a strike.

Mesa and Tempe, AZ bus drivers reached a deal with First Transit to end their four-day walkout. ?It’s been a long, hard fight and we feel we have a good contract to take back to our members,” said Bob Bean, president of?Local?1433-Phoenix, AZ.?”We’re happy we got it done today so the public has access to buses again and kids can go to school tomorrow.” ?Read more.

With less than an hour before a midnight strike deadline in Oakland, AC Transit workers and management reached a tentative contract agreement after more than five months of bargaining.

?The negotiating team wants to thank the members of ATU Local?192-Oakland for continuing to serve the public through these difficult negotiations, and we want to thank our passengers for their continued support,? said Local President Yvonne Williams. ?This agreement protects workers, helps riders, and keeps service running.??Read more.

Meanwhile Local?1555-Oakland BART workers are awaiting the report of Governor Brown?s appointed review board while the truth has come out about BART management’s continual bad faith bargaining and refusal to negotiate face-to-face.?Read more.? 192’s Williams chided BART saying “I think BART could take a lesson from the AC Transit board in getting it done.”

ATU & NJ lawmakers push for regulation in wake of fatal bus crash

The tragic death of an 8-month old?when an out-of-control jitney bus smashed into a light pole that toppled onto her stroller has?brought attention to the dangerous underbelly of this unregulated industry.

ATU’s New Jersey Council, which has been long been fighting to expose unsafeBaby jitney,?has joined with state lawmakers to push for stricter regulations for drivers and more oversight of this industry.?These fly-by-night companies face no regulation, often hire drivers with poor driving records, were recently cited for more than 400 violations over a two-week period and have buses that regularly fail safety inspections.

NJ members will be launching a campaign to educate riders about why these commuter buses are a serious safety hazard and urge them to call their state legislator to support more regulation of the industry.?Read more.

Anti-union, anti-worker attack tactics go global

Help stop Peru law threatening union rights

The same anti-union tactics employed by Governors Walker (R-WI), Kasich (R-OH) and their Koch brother-backed cohorts to trample the bargaining rights of public workers are spreading across the globe.

In Peru a new proposed Civil Service Law contains serious threats to human rights including labor and trade union rights for more than half a million Peruvians who provide public services. Like laws proposed in the U.S. and Canada, this would remove the right of public sector unions to negotiate wages, deny the right to strike in essential sectors as well enact other anti-union measures.

As ATU members did in Wisconsin and in Ohio, let?s help put a stop to this global terrorism against public workers and all workers across the world by voicing our opposition to this law. Click?here?to send a message to the President of Peru that you won’t stand for such an erosion of union rights!

ATU members out in force at anti-ALEC rally in Chicago

ATU chicagoATU members joined Rev. Jesse Jackson, fellow union members, community activists, and other protesters to?push back against 40 years of ?greedy, right-wing billionaires imposing their will on the masses? at the American Legislative Exchange Council?s (ALEC) annual conference in Chicago.

ALEC?s legislation, protesters say, too often protects corporate interests and disenfranchises the middle class. ?There?s a lot of money behind this organization,? said one attendee at the protest. ?They?re using money to influence legislation that destroys unions, privatizes education, pushes down the middle class, and benefits the 1 percent.??Read more.

Kansas City bus drivers, police, & transit authority seek ways to make buses safer

A surge of violence on Kansas City Metro buses has drivers worried about their safety and working with the transit authority executives on ways to beef up security to protect drivers and riders alike.

About 100 bus drivers, members of Local?1287?Kansas City, met with police officers and transit authority officials about dangerous attacks in July, which included the beating and stabbing of a driver over a fare, to find ways to prevent this violence. Among the measures being considered are increased driver training, protective glass barriers around drivers and a text line for passengers to report incidents when they happen.

ATU International President Larry Hanley says violence on buses is a growing problem across North America. “It’s been more than an uptick (in bus violence). It’s been more like an avalanche over the course of several years,” said Hanley, Passengers generally see bus drivers as representatives of the government agencies that raise fares.?Read more.

NJ assailant who attacked bus driver found competent to stand trial

NJ ATU members were out in force at a court hearing this week as a judge ruled the assailant, who brutally stabbed fellow member Ihab Abounaja seven times last October, was competent to stand trial.

?I commend Local?819-Newark President Ben Evans and Vice President Tiran Billups and all their members for their vigilance and support in standing in solidarity for Brother Abounaja to make sure his attacker is brought to justice for this horrific attack,? said Ray Greaves,?chairman of ATU NJ State Council.

Newark County prosecutors originally charged the assailant, Michael Young, with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon, and possession of stolen property. But after pressure from ATU and community activists the charges were upgraded to attempted murder. A trial date has not yet been set.

Sorry for the downtime, routine maintenance went awry.

Usually updates apply without a hitch, Wednesday night didn’t go so well I heard on Thursday morning, sorry for the hickup folks. Slightly different look now due to the old template not fully compatible with the installed components.

Actor Danny Glover joins ATU, labor activists at BART rally

Danny GloverAs BART negotiations continue to flounder and ATU Local 1555 gave it?s 72-hour strike notice, actor Danny Glover joined hundreds of BART workers, union activists and supporters at a rally for BART workers in Oakland, CA yesterday.?The rally was followed by a march to BART headquarters.

While negotiations continue to try and reach a deal before the Monday, August 4 deadline, Local?1555?- Oakland, CA, says it has been the same old story with management continuing to offer only a minimal wage increase and more expensive healthcare.

Meanwhile BART?s $400,000 union-busting gun for hire, Tom Hock, is being asked to resign for a ?blatant conflict of interest? because he has profited from the strike. This comes a week after he took criticism for taking a week long vacation during the negotiations to end the strike.

?Mesa & Tempe bus drivers stand strong on picket lines

Despite ATU Local?1433?leaders’ attempts to avert a strike, Mesa and Tempe drivers overwhelmingly rejected First Transit?s last and best offer and went on strike at midnight on Thursday.

“We are doing this (strike) because they refuse to bargain with us in good faith,” Local 1433 President Bob Bean, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433, told Reuters. “The public needs to know that we would go back to work if they were fair to us.”

The central issue in the dispute does not involve wages. It involves “management rights” with First Transit’s operating contract with the Valley Metro transit authority. The authority could order First Transit to violate ATU 1433?s labor agreement by unilaterally reducing driver wages or cutting work hours.

Talks resumed today and both sides remain hopefully as some progress was reached on the issue of management rights, but the drivers remain on strike.”The people on the road and the people on the strike line are ? suffering,” said 1433 Financial Secretary Michael Cornelius. “I am committed ? to bring it to an end as quickly as possible.”

?Sign ATU Canada petition to fight motor coach driver fatigue

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

More than 50,000 people have signed an ATU Canada petition calling on the Ministry of Transport to make improvements to legislation regulating hours of service for motor coach drivers. Over the past decade, 36% of motor coach crash fatalities have been the result of driver fatigue.

?Motor coach drivers are forced to work long hours with minimal compensation and very little time between shifts. As a result, a driver’s reaction time decreases and the opportunity for a fatal collision increases,? the petition reads.

The petition calls for federal legislation to make the following regulations:

  • 10 hour maximum drive time per day
  • 14 hour maximum on duty per day
  • 10-hour minimum guarantee for rest between shifts
  • All motor coach vehicles equipped with electronic logging technology
  • Distinction between motor coach vehicles and trucks
Sign the petition?here.

 

In Transit wins award

Over the last year you may have noticed that we revamped In Transit by adding more graphics and photos, using cartoons and engaging photos on the cover, and making other changes to improve the magazine.

The work has paid off.

The International Labor Communicators Association (ILCA) has awarded ATU?s flagship magazine second place for the ?Best Design for International Union Magazines?.

Continue to enjoy the magazine and we hope to win first place next year!

The one thing Obama neglected to mention on his jobs tour

Obama forgotThis week President Barack Obama was in Chattanooga, Tenn., promoting Amazon warehouse jobs to spotlight the surge in hiring, but those jobs are literally beyond the reach of most of the people who might fill them.

The warehouse, located on the outskirts of the city, is only accessible by car because Chattanooga?s bus system doesn’t go there. So these jobs are out of reach for the people who need them most.

This disconnect between available jobs and access to public transit system is not just a Chattanooga problem, but also one many major American cities face. ?In reality, our shortage of public transportation represents a full-blown crisis at the center of the explanation for how millions of Americans have found them selves exiled from working life,? says Huffington Post?s Peter Goodman.

A Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program report found that nearly 40 million working-age Americans reside in parts of metropolitan areas that effectively lack public transportation. ?While another Brookings study found that in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, nearly half of all jobs were more than 10 miles beyond the downtown core. Two-thirds of the jobs in these cities were beyond range of a 90-minute commute using mass transit.

What this really means is what ATU has been saying for many years: It?s well past time for Congress and the Administration to address the mass transit crisis.

?NJ jitney accident that killed baby highlights industry risk

A bus accident that killed an 8-month old baby in New Jersey this week highlights the longstanding problem of the lack of regulation in the industry and the ability of many fly-by-night companies to operate.

The bus driver involved in the crash had allegedly being using his cell phone and should not have been behind the wheel because of his poor driving record, according to the Hudson County sheriff who called for a “massive crackdown” on commuter bus companies. The driver has been charged with death by auto and reckless driving.

Boulevard Lines, who operated the bus, has had two of the company?s drivers taken off the road during random inspections since July 2011. After eight separate inspections, four of the company?s buses were also taken out of service.?

Hudson County police have begun randomly stopping commuter buses in the county, checking drivers? records and investigating companies to make sure their vehicles were in good condition.

The ATU has been working to push for better regulation of the intercity bus industry, which has become over run with mom-and-pop operators who bend the rules and push their drivers to the limits, which often ends in tragedy as it did in New Jersey this week.

?Canada Greyhound service cuts hit both close & far from home

 

A western Canadian woman is going to have to cancel her annual trip to visit family in northern British Columbia because of service cuts by Greyhound Canada on more remote and rural routes across western Canada.Greyhound Canada

Mary Schuehler?s long journey to Smithers, B.C., between Prince George and Prince Rupert usually took 23 hours, but with the service cuts it would now take more than two days and force her to stay overnight in Prince George.

?I guess I won?t go now. Or I?ll have to move back to B.C.,? jokes Schuehler. ?If it?s going to take so long to go to Prince George, I might as well go by horse and buggy. I?ll get there faster.?

She is among many in these communities who now feel abandoned by Greyhound and stranded with very few options for bus travel.

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