More than 150 angry bus riders, drivers and transit advocates packed the second town hall meeting, organized by Local 1300-Baltimore, to voice their serious concerns with BaltimoreLink, an overhaul of the city’s bus system that has doubled commute times and confused riders. Hospital worker Patricia Whitty’s frustrations echoed many in attendance. “The buses don’t come on time, and it’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to my co-workers,” said Whitty. “I get off at 3:30, I don’t get home until a quarter of six. That is not right.” Gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is considering running for governor, addressed the crowd. Both criticized Gov. Larry Hogan for cancelling the proposed Red Line light rail line and the struggles of the BaltimoreLink. Read more.


STC bus closure forcing riders to hitchhike

Local 1374– Calgary, AB, warned that the Saskatchewan government’s decision to shutter STC intercity bus service would have a devastating impact on those who rely on the service. Three months after the shutdown some have been forced to hitchhike with no other option for transportation. A University of Northern British Columbia professor, who has been researching hitchhiking along B.C.’s Highway of Tears where a number of women have gone missing or been murdered, says the closure of STC definitely puts lives at risk. “There are dangers out there, particularly in northern, rural, remote settings…if you take away bus service and you put people out on the highway hitchhiking, you could see some really devastating impacts.” Read more.


Boston Carmen’s union honors rider hero

At ATU we hear stories all the time about our members going above and beyond to help riders in need or distress. So, it was inspiring to hear about a Boston bus rider intervening when a knife-wielding passenger stabbed an MBTA bus driver. Local 589-Boston, MA member York Makonnen was on her route when she heard someone scream and pulled over. A man approached her and stabbed her in the back and shoulder. Luckily rider Charles Rozopoulos reacted quickly and wrestled the knife away from the assailant and held him until police arrived. “I was bleeding and thought I would die,’ said veteran driver Makonnen. “I was lucky all my passengers love me and many of them, including Charlie, leaped to save me.” The Carmen’s Union honored Rozopoulos with a party and presented him a black union jacket. Read more.


Palm Tran workers concerned for driver safety after incident

In the wake of a dispute that started on a Palm Tran bus that lead to a shooting outside the bus, Local 1577-West Palm Beach, FL, is calling for increased safety for bus drivers including installing barriers between drivers and riders. This latest incident follows one last April when an irate passenger, who refused to pay his bus fare, was caught on camera assaulting a bus driver. The passenger punched the driver and dragged him off of the bus. The driver is still recovering from his injuries and has been unable to return to work. Over the past 20 months passengers have assaulted 15 and threatened 58 Palm Tran bus drivers. Read more.


Local 689 Warns new WMATA Board Members

As Metro’s two newest board members David Horner and Steve McMillin, Local 689-Washington, DC, members had some advice: don’t believe the hype from WMATA’s leadership. “Since Mr. Wiedefeld became the general manager of Metro, we have heard false claim and false claim,” said a railcar maintenance operator at the hearing. Another worker told the two board members, “The workers and riders of Metro deserve better than a board that listens to no one, makes poor decisions without adequate research, and deliberately chooses to take Metro in the wrong direction…we are here today to ask you to do it differently … Be honest with the public and drive Metro forward.” Read more.