I have sent an appropriately edited version of the following message.I distributed it to the following , Community leaders in Washington county, the Oregonian, ODOT and Gov Kitz, about up and coming changes they are making to the Maintenance of Way Dept. The reasons for this can only be attributed to retaliation by management against MOW employees. R K the MOW manager is nuts. Working for R K is like being a victim of a child molester. He gets his jollies by abusing all around him. He needs to go, Moral of the employees are at an all time low. The light rail physical plant is deteriorating from differed maintenance by the minute. So much for the rant, read the following and think twice about your safety when it comes to riding the train because this is only a small piece of the total deterioration at Rail.
Sorry about it being long winded but I thought you, Union brothers and sisters would like to know!
To the Honorable City Officials of the community,
My name is Michael Conner. I am employed as a Light Rail Signal Maintainer at Trimet. A management decision at Trimet has come up that will adversely affect the safety and transportation service to the citizens of your community. Currently the signal system at Trimet is maintained by 2 work groups. One on the east side of the Willamette river and one on the west side. These groups service these geographic locations respectively. A so called cost saving move will be implemented by TM management coming in March that will move the West side group and combine it in Gresham with the east side group. Also currently and since the opening of the West side Light rail line there has been a group stationed on the West side of the river because of the need for response to repair defects. The group has worked between the hours of 6:00am and 5:30pm which is when the majority of service is running and interaction with traffic and the Gated mechanical crossings is at its greatest. Also with the majority of your citizens riding during these hours the need to keep the trains moving as efficiently as possible due to train density is critical. So the fact that not only are the signal maintainers now going to have to come all the way from Gresham, another part of this plan is to reduce the staff of this Safety critical dept. during these hours by 50%. This is because half of the group is to be moved to a 10:00pm to 6:00am shift.
Since the signal system at light rail is probably not in the forefront of problems you often hear about, there is a reason for this. That is because the system is operating efficiently and defects are treated as a priority. However 2 years ago a new manager came into the Maintenance of Way division and while trying to implement some other changes made the statement at a staff meeting that “I could care less about response time”. I would assume that your group would understand the importance of signals with overseeing a traffic signal system. Flow of traffic, safety, and response when a defect arises are not lost on you as to the level of importance signal maintenance is. It is the same for the Light rail system.
So what does this mean to you. The signal system is of utmost importance as far as safety to the trains (train collision avoidance). Train movement delay avoidance (switch machines that will not line up routes, Red signals that won’t clear to allow trains to move, etc.) and probably of biggest concern is the gated crossings which are mechanical and one of our pieces of equipment that have a high probability of failure. Not only that but some of them interface with your traffic signals and effect their operation. But most importantly when these fail it will fail in a manner that puts a physical barrier across major arterials and will impede emergency vehicles and traffic. Not only that but it can also fail in a manner that will reduce the safety for the motorists going over the crossing. Such as when a gate gets knocked off by a car. This happens quite often. I have seen it happen up to 3 times in a week at the 185th crossing there in Hillsboro/Beaverton. This is why response time is so important, the sooner we get these critical problems fixed the better for the efficient and safe movement of the citizens of your community.
Why am I writing you, because our concerns have fallen on deaf ears at Trimet management. Trimet managements only concern is saving money and they have lost sight of safety before schedules. Not only do I feel a need to let you know about this for the public good, but my friends and family live in your community and Trimet management of late has shown it is not trustworthy to have the public’s best interest in mind over their own personal ambitions. We still live today with Trimet management not fully addressing the fare machine defects issue, it looks like TMs management is willing to make the signal system the next victim. As you know when Trimet does not properly do its job it costs your tax payers lost resources to assist Trimet in picking up the pieces with the need for police and other support. I am hoping that you can use some of your influence to give some input to Trimet management or if nothing else to make you aware of the up and coming issues with this.
Thanks for your consideration of this issue,
Signal Maintainer Central division Trimet MOW