|Today marks a rebirth and reinvigorated commitment to education and progressive training for organized labor as ATU expands its long-standing union education and activism program to the newly acquired campus of the former National Labor College.
?Today the ATU has stepped up and assumed a greater leadership role in the molding of minds, values and progressive reform for both Canada and the United States, where we represent more than 190,000 workers. The state of the art conference and training center will again be a hub of activity for ATU and the entire labor movement,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?It represents a new beginning in terms of our capacity to train not only our leaders and members, but also those who work every day to improve the life of our society.?
Over the past four years, ATU has made an unprecedented commitment to training and education to empower its members with the skills, strategies and knowledge needed to strengthen the Union and build community alliances.? ATU, which will train more than 10,000 members this year, will make the facilities of the new ?ATU Training and Education Center? available to other unions and progressive groups seeking to educate and train their members, as well.??Read more.
Locked out Guelph transit workers head back to the table
There?s a glimmer of hope for stranded Guelph, ON commuters as city officials have agreed to meet with leaders of ATU Local?1189?in hopes of reaching a deal to end the contract dispute.
More than 200 Guelph bus drivers and other workers have been locked out since July 21. 1189 members have been without a contract since July 2013 and overwhelmingly rejected the city?s last contract proposal.
Local President Andrew Cleary said members want to get back to work and he is cautiously optimistic about the meeting. ?We want to be working and serving our community. Any step that can help us move towards that goal is one we?re willing to consider.”?Read more.
Be sure to check out the ATU website and social for the latest developments around this dispute.
Making mass transit free gaining backers
Back in March the city of Paris gave further proof that the best things in life are free when the transit system introduced alternate driving days and eliminated all fares on local trams, buses, trains and subways. Traffic declined by nearly 20 percent and air pollution fell by 6 percent demonstrating that implementing free service can be a worthwhile investment.
It?s time for American cities to take notice.
Can a fare-free policy transform regional transportation??For bigger cities across the US, eliminating fares is a means to increase ridership, reduce traffic and pollution, and provide more parking and mobility. Also, most cities have a large number of transit-dependent residents who don?t own cars and don?t live close enough to their workplace to walk.
Currently, nearly all-public transport systems are heavily subsidized, and make only a fraction back from rider fares. The dozens of small American towns that have free transit service usually aren?t losing much revenue by doing so.?In the few American cities where such programs have been tried on a short-term basis ridership has surged.?When Topeka made transit free for May of 1988, ridership rose 98 percent; when Austin made transit free for the fall of 1990, ridership increased by 75 percent. ?Maybe it?s time for city governments to start considering giving its residents a free ride. ?Read more.
A streetcar named deception
Current urban transportation trends appear to be going ?back to the future.?
The latest phenomenon in public transportation is not a high-speed train or bus that will get you to your destination in under an hour but rather new streetcar lines. And it may be ?the worst transportation project in America? writes investigative reporter Matthew Yglesias in Vox.com.
In cities like Detroit and Washington, DC, tens of millions of dollars are being funneled toward the creation of new streetcar lines. ATU has been campaigning against these streetcar projects, which are being proposed as the savior for transit in many cities, calling them a waste of transit dollars. Furthermore they are mostly in tourist areas and take away bus service from the communities that rely on transit.
Along with being costly, streetcars are also inefficient; with no dedicated lane, a streetcar cannot compete with a bus. Moreover since streetcars can?t switch lanes, they run slower than buses. Yglesias argues there?s no wisdom in adding a vehicle like a streetcar to the curb lane of a congested street only to further slow down buses, especially during rush hour traffic.
The only method to make a new surface rail project feasible is the creation of a dedicated lane over significant portions of its route, but for this to happen road space needs to be taken from motor vehicles and other public transit.?Read more.
NYPD cracks down on jitneys
Thanks to pressure from an ATU campaign the New York Police Department (NYPD) has had it with?unpermitted and dangerous jitney shuttle buses?illegally operating in the city. NYPD officers are handing out fines or shutting down these companies, many of which are based in New Jersey, for not having the necessary permits to operate in New York.
These Jitney companies have been slow or fail to file for city permits leaving the NYPD no choice but to crack down on the operators. While the jitney buses may be convenient and cheap for passengers, without regulation they can be extremely dangerous. Last year one crashed into a light post in NJ that fell on and killed a baby in a stroller.
ATU has worked with lawmakers in New Jersey to put forth measures to regulate jitney buses. These measures include increasing the amount of insurance required, forcing drivers to register with the municipalities in which they operate and requiring drivers to have valid commercial licenses.?Read more.
Seattle King County Metro bus cuts postponed, but not averted
Faced with outrage over Metro bus cuts, the King County Council in Seattle, WA unanimously voted on a plan to postpone service reductions until September. The Council resolved to ?explore options before implementation of future service cuts.?
The transportation-funding crisis was sparked by voters? defeat of Proposition 1 in April. ATU had launched a campaign with rider groups to pass Prop 1, which would have created a county transportation district to fund Metro and roads with a sales tax and a hike on vehicle registration costs.
However, the King County Council has delayed the cuts asking for more community input including workshops on proposed transit reductions with those communities impacted by possible cuts. County officials say they are focusing on the needs of customers by improving connections between Link light rail and RapidRide high-frequency buses and other transport to the entire bus network leading to faster, more reliable trips and greater mobility.?Read more.
NYC explores more “Bus Rapid Transit” to reduce commutes
In hopes of reducing commute times and encouraging more bus ridership the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the MTA are looking at implementing more Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) improvements on routes throughout the city. BRT is a proven cost-effective approach to transit service that cities around the world have used to make riding the bus more like riding the subway.
In Bogota, Colombia, BRT service uses roads with at least six lanes, bus-only spaces and a center median for stations. “People who used to take three hours now take 40 minutes in their transport. TransMilenio works exactly as a subway,? said the former mayor of Bogota.
Where in NYC might you see more BRT? Officials are considering Queens and the Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard corridor for BRT. NYC currently has seven Select Bus Service (SBS) lines, which promise speedier rides.?Read more.