Archive for July, 2015

Indianapolis Bus operator marks Millionth mile

Arthur Smith
Veteran operator Arthur Smith, 1070-Indianapolis, IN, has been recognized by the IndyGo agency for an outstanding safety record. Since beginning his career in 1979, Smith has made safety a priority and logged more than a million miles without an accident. He was honored with his family at halftime during a recent Indiana Fever basketball game. ATU salutes Brother Smith for his exceptional career-long commitment to safety and the example he sets for all bus drivers.

Transit groups push for more bus funding in highway bill

Public inside a busA group of 81 public transportation unions and advocacy groups is pushing Congress to increase federal funding for bus companies in a transportation spending bill that is coming up for renewal at the end of the month.

Lawmakers are facing a July 31 deadline for the expiration of current infrastructure funding, and they are considering both short- and long-term potential extensions to help pay for the nation’s transportation projects.

The transit groups, who were organized by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), said Congress should reverse a 2012 decision to cut funding for buses in last two-year transportation bill that was approved by lawmakers.

“The splitting of the Section 5309 Capital program into three separate programs under MAP-21 reduced dedicated bus capital funding under that section from $980 million to $440 million,” the groups wrote to the top lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee.”Unfortunately the new Bus and Bus Facilities formula program under Section 5339 is less than half of previous Section 5309 levels, and modest increases elsewhere have failed to make up the difference,” the groups continued.

The transportation measure that is expiring on July 31 is a second extension of the 2012 infrastructure bill, which was known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century act.

The transit groups said the funding cuts in the 2012 transportation bill have had devastating affects on the bus industry.

“Although it has not even been three years since the bill took effect, the results on the street have been devastating,” the groups wrote. “Many buses now in service are well past their so-called useful life (12 years old), and with the cost of an average heavy duty large bus between $325,000 and $600,000, vehicle replacement has become a monumental task.

“Real safety issues exist, as transit systems struggle to preserve their existing fleets through the use of old parts and creative maintenance departments,” the letter continued. “While transit is still an incredibly safe industry, it is only a matter of time until serious accidents occur due to the aging of the fleets.”

The request for more bus funding comes at a time when lawmakers are struggling to come up with a way to pay for a new round of transportation funding.

Congress has been grappling since 2005 with a transportation funding shortfall that is estimated to be about $16 billion per year, and lawmakers have not passed a transportation bill that lasts longer than two years during that span.

The Department of Transportation has warned that its Highway Trust Fund will dip below a mandatory critical level of $4 billion at the end of the month. The agency has said crossing that threshold will necessitate a cutback on payments to state and local governments.

The transit groups said bus cuts that were approved in 2012 have forced transit companies to cut back on service, which they said have negatively impacted transit workers.

“The massive federal cuts in capital funding for buses are beginning to force systems to shift their precious state and local operating funds to the capital side, creating an influx of service cuts,” the groups wrote.

“Between 2008 and 2012, more than 85 percent of transit systems nationwide slashed service or raised fares — some multiple times — due to shortages in state and local funds,” the groups continued. “Transit systems are being forced to make tough decisions on which routes to cut, and invariably, it?s the worker who relies on the late night bus to get home or the reverse commuter that pays the price?Without question, the lack of adequate dedicated bus capital means systems are using more operating dollars to keep aging fleets on the road.”

Better Mass Transit Is the Real Solution to Congestion

Transit solutionTo see why New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is correct to restrain Uber’s growth for a year to figure out a more permanent fix, look to history. In the 1930s, the depressed economy put thousands of people behind the wheels of taxi cabs. Too many drivers chasing too few fares congested streets and drove down wages. In 1934, after a brutal strike, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia proposed limiting the number of cabs.

Three years later, LaGuardia signed into law the medallion system we have now. By requiring cabs to have a medallion, and limiting the number of those medallions, the city enacted an early form of what we, today, call congestion pricing.

Nearly eight decades later, Uber drivers are acting like cab drivers, but without the limits cab drivers face. It’s no surprise that as tens of thousands of new cars and S.U.V.s join the ranks of for-hire vehicles annually, the streets have become more clogged.

Road congestion is not a sign of success. Some of New York’s worst years were also its most congested, because people didn’t trust the transit system.

Remember Travis Bickle?

So what are the long-term solutions to the Uber surge?

New York’s public policy over the past three decades has been to minimize the cars and trucks on the city’s streets, and to maximize the number of people using trains, buses, bicycles and their feet.

With all the attention to Uber, it’s important to remember that three-quarters of commuters take mass transit, not a car, into Manhattan every day. After the mid-90s, <href=”#.vavldipviko”>subway ridership and pedestrian and bicycle traffic soared as car traffic fell.

We should keep it that way. The city and state need to invest in the subway and bus system to deal with record crowds. Investment doesn’t only mean big new projects, but better evening and weekend service on commuter rails, subways and buses, especially in the outer boroughs.

This past weekend, it took my friends more than an hour to travel by subway from north Brooklyn to Midtown for dinner. No wonder people prefer Uber.

To pay for all this, the city and state can use the same technologies that Uber uses ? but use them to enact a modern form of congestion pricing. Passengers coming into Manhattan or riding around Manhattan in a car or S.U.V. should pay to use the streets ? enough to make wealthier New Yorkers and their employers think twice about paying up.

Passengers should pay a lot more, too, to ride around in a huge S.U.V. than in a small passenger car. Large vehicles take up more room, and cause more street damage.

And instead of capping cars, the city can keep capping the space those cars can use. New York can create more lanes for buses and bicyclists only, and more spots for goods deliveries only, too. Regulators can use camera technology to enforce such restrictions. Albany should allow far more cameras to police speed and red-light running, too.

New York’s future depends on better transit and safer walking and bicycling conditions for everyone. As the world changes, the city is right to make sure that its rules keep up.

 

NTSB?S RECOMMENDED BUS SAFETY BRIEFINGS IGNORE REAL DANGER ? DRIVER FATIGUE

GreyhoundTransit union says federal agencies; policy makers & carriers continue to ignore driver fatigue ? the chief cause of fatal accidents

Washington, DC ? While the National Transportation Safety Board is urging commercial buses have more clearly labeled emergency exits and safety briefings, the industry?s blatant overtime abuse of drivers will continue to cause fatal bus accidents, says the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
Bus drivers for Greyhound, Bolt, Peter Pan and countless other intercity companies are among a group of employees unprotected by the overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. While companies avoid paying their low wage employees overtime for long hours, drivers are often forced to work second jobs during their ?rest period? just to make ends meet.
?Safety briefings on buses and better signs to show emergency exits aren’t going to address the real cause of these deadly bus accidents,? says Larry Hanley, international president of ATU, which represents workers at Greyhound and other intercity bus companies. ?Until Congress deals with bus driver fatigue we will continue to see carnage on the highways.”
According to the NTSB, 36 percent of U.S. motorcoach crash fatalities over the past decade have been caused by driver fatigue. It is the number one reason for these deadly interstate accidents ? far above road conditions (2 percent) or inattention (6 percent). Over the last decade, three times as many people have been killed in intercity bus accidents than in commercial airline crashes.
Deregulation of the industry in the 1980s has lead to the opening of more than 3,700 commercial motor coach and van companies in the United States ? far more than the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can monitor for compliance with safety regulations. In fact, one in four commercial motorcoach and passenger van companies has never received a full safety evaluation. Almost half have not been reviewed in over two years.
?These companies advertise cheap fares, free Wi-Fi, live TV, comfortable seats and other so-called luxuries,? Hanley continued. ?But what about their safety record, their drivers? experience, pay, and hours behind the wheel??
ATU supports the Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, sponsored Driver Fatigue Prevention Act, which would ensure that drivers are paid fairly for the work they put in above 40 hours per week, making them less inclined to work other jobs and push their bodies beyond the limits of human endurance.
?To address driver fatigue Congress needs to acknowledge that the government has created the conditions that have encouraged interstate bus companies to operate dangerous ?sweatshops on wheels.? They can begin to clean up the mess by removing the overtime exemption for intercity motor coach operators,? Hanley continued. ?It?s a matter of life and death.?

Winnipeg Transit union offers reward for safe return of Thelma Krull

thelma Krull

We’ve now rised an additional $5000 to be added to the safe return of Thelma’s. Reward is now at $10000.

Krull, 57, has not been seen since leaving her Harbourview South home for a walk Saturday morning.

She is the wife of Mr Robert Krull bus operator at WinnipegRobert Krull bus operator at Winnipeg Transit Transit.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 announced Thursday they?re offering a $5,000 reward for information that results in Krull?s safe return to her family.

?The disappearance of Mrs. Thelma Krull is an event of great concern to her family and friends,? said union president John Callahan, in a release. ?We at the Amalgamated Transit Union want to see a happy reunion.?

In the meantime Transit employees ?are organizing to help raise money to add to the reward to find Mrs Thelm Krull, we are selling safety whistles and all the proceeds being added to the $5000, the ATU has offered for her safe return.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Winnipeg Police Service Missing Persons Unit at 204-986-6250.

How to stay cool on the job in the summer

heat_stressWith summer in high gear, temperatures are soaring and many of our members will face dangerously hot and humid conditions on the job. It is critical for the safety of drivers and riders that ATU members recognize the symptoms of heat health risks and stay well hydrated.Important tips to deal with extreme heat can be found in the ATU Health Bulletin: ?Heat Stress Safety.? This Bulletin can be downloaded here inEnglish, Spanish and French and easily printed by most computers.

ATU APPLAUDS OBAMA OVERTIME PAY EXPANSION, BUT ‘WHY ARE INTERCITY BUS DRIVERS STILL TREATED LIKE SECOND-CLASS WORKERS?’

Overtime abuse causing bus driver fatigue –
chief cause of fatal interstate accidents

Washington, DC ? Calling on President Obama and Congress to extend overtime protection to intercity bus drivers to combat driver fatigue ? the number one cause of fatal interstate bus accidents ? and stop the exploitation of workers who shoulder tremendous responsibilities on our nation?s highways, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) praised President Obama?s overtime pay expansion proposal.

?We applaud the president?s initiative expanding overtime benefits to employees who are managers in name only,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?But, we must ask, ?Why has Congress left intercity bus drivers behind? Why are these overworked, underpaid, and abused operators being abandoned? Why are these safety-sensitive employees still treated like second-class workers???

Since the deregulation of the interstate bus industry in the 1980s, thousands of new intercity companies have popped up across America. Unfortunately, their drivers are among the few classes of workers still unprotected by the overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ? an oversight that invites their abuse by ?over-the-road? employers.

Many who work long hours without overtime pay are forced to work second jobs during their ?rest period? just to get by, which leads to fatigued drivers behind the wheel and danger on our highways.

?All workers deserve to be fairly compensated for overtime,? says Hanley, ?but in an industry where drivers operate 50,000 lbs. vehicles at 65 miles per hour, it?s a matter of life and death.?

According to ATU?s Sudden Death Overtime the National Transportation Safety Board found that 36 percent of U.S. motorcoach crash fatalities are caused by driver fatigue. It is the number one reason for these tragedies ? far above road conditions (2 percent) or inattention (6 percent).

ATU is renewing its call for passage of the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act. Sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, the bill would ensure that these vastly underpaid drivers are compensated for the overtime work they perform over 40 hours per week.

 

 

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