Saturday, January 12, 2013


TriMet overtime: 'Exhaustion has become part of the culture' at transit agency  

On the basic level, this is an issue of Public Policy vs GM Policy. If every driver is able to come to work, the system would work. But reality is, driving a bus destroys your body. The bouncing, vibrations, door opening and closing in extreme heat and cold. Drivers will become physically unable to work (Workers Comp) or be ill. Some have to take off time to take their families for appointments. So there are always drivers who will not be driving their run.
Someone else does, extrabozrd operators, who always get 1st option to extra work, and then others asking for xta work.
Quite often, the number of drivers is not enough. The choice is cancel a run, which the GM does not want to ever happen, or let someone who's not really eligible to drive under rules, but is willing to do say. The driver feels they can make it through that run safely. Don't we all think we can do our job. The Station Agent, under pressure from upper mgmt, bends a rule and it happens... over and over again.
TriMet will not hire more drivers, because they end up paying two people... the one sick and the one working (possibly on OT).
This is typical of the problems internally. TriMet is the absolute best at planning capital expenditures... but they do not plan for anything else.
It was so easy to get money for light rail here, they never looked at the problems they created. MAX crossing streets... an accident waiting to happen (note after 25 years, they are finally elevating the Orange Line), they never put a 3rd set of tracks in often enough to let trains run around some problems. The left the plaforms open and provding no means of fair collection. $20 million a year of lost revenue (OMG, that would've paid for some benefits), they ignored public safety and often reprimanded employee's and TM Police for doing too much. Fair Inspector's where constantly being harrassed for writing up fair evaders, even repeat fair evaders.
As a bus opertor retiree, I feel their actions have been criminal in respect to retiree benefits. They made a deal and now they are stealing money from me to pay for their lack of planning. Any financial officer knows BLUE CROSS goes up 10-33% a year and they are 6 times more than any other option. If you agree to pay benefit, you don't add another bus before you plan to cover your financial commitment.
For numerous contract negociations, union employee gave up pay raise offers in return for our medical plan, in tact and in retirement. They signed the contracts but they did not plan on honoring them.
Time to start a new era of TriMet. Clear the house on the Executive Board. Then upper management.
Hire People who uderstand that mass transit is for those who chose to commute and those who have no other choice. Your constiuents are middle income to poor for the most part. A Board of Directors who do not understand that cannot function correctly or fairly. The GM needs to understand that buses can and will always go where light rail cannot. That said, a great system is a balance between the two. TriMet's idea that the bus operation is unimportant compared to MAX is STUPID at best. Transferring the problem from one entity to the other does not solve any problem. It creates new ones for more people. TriMet's way of dealing with problems is always in question because they don't. The new management should be chosen because they have expertise solving internal issues... find the balance to keep buses moving, employees and customers happy and fewer accidents... all by planning ahead.
If you make the rail side better and more capable of handdling their problems, the bus system lives on and becomes the backbone of the nations best transit sytem once again.
The problems at TriMet are not impossible... especially now, with a contract being worked out.
Once we have new management in place, our union needs to step up and offer to get rid of Regence as an option. Let us chose between, Kaiser (already a choice) and replace BC/BS with Providence, Legacy or Adventist Medical. Virtually every doctor on Regence works for one or more of thos options. The cost savings should allow TM to honor prior contracts regarding retiree medical at no cost to them. It also put TM in a better postion to plan to cover those future costs.
If they solve that issue, TM once again becomes a prime EMPLOYER in the area. Fred Hansen & Neil MacFarlane have destroyed the trust between the agency and it's employees. A change is needed. Now is the time.


1 comment:

Henry Beasley said...

Whaaa, no mention of the "dirty-bus"???