Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Nothing Like a Trimet 'fact check' 'news release' to brighten up our day at blog central. For comedy there is nothing better. We should send these to the comedy channel and have them make up some skits around their crazy shit.

First the Trimet 'fact check'

On October 30th, a TriMet bus operator witnessed a pedestrian being struck by an auto and pushed the alarm on the agency’s radio system to call for assistance. TriMet’s new radio system tracked the call and identified the exact location of the vehicle. While the audio was garbled, the radio system was quickly restarted and the issue was resolved.
Contrary to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the dispatchers knew the location of the bus. Also contrary to ATU claims, dispatchers were involved in designing the new radio system as it was developed, including being part of the team that traveled to other transit agencies to review the proposed dispatch systems.
The new radio system was fully activated in April, and we continue to work with the vendor to improve the system, which includes dispatcher involvement. A permanent software fix is in the works to address the garbled messages, and set to be installed in mid-November.

Now let's see what Shirley Block has to say about this. Shirley Block is the union representative for the dispatchers so  she would actually know the truth. This comes from her blog OMGTRIMET!

“TriMet’s multi-million dollar radio system continues to be plagued with serious problems,” reports Amalgamated Transit Union President Bruce Hansen. Yesterday, October 30th, Bus 2808 was at the intersection of 185th and SW Farmington Road. The time was approximately 11:10 a.m. A horrified bus operator watched as an automobile struck a pedestrian. It was obvious that the pedestrian was seriously injured. The bus operator quickly tried to summon assistance by punching the bus’s emergency alarm.

What was supposed to happen was that an alarm would sound in TriMet dispatch and the dispatcher would summon ambulance, police and fire to the scene.

What actually happened when the alarm sounded threw the dispatch crew into a panic. When dispatchers answered the alarm, all they heard were muffled words that sounded like “I am in…” Three words and then the entire radio system, covering the whole district, went dead.

The dispatchers were frantic. They knew there was an emergency somewhere on Bus 2808’s route. They didn’t know why the system was down but until it was back up, they were cut off from all operators.

In an effort to jump-start the communication, the entire system was shut down and re-booted. That process takes six to ten minutes. And they had no way of knowing whether the re-boot would work.

While the computer technicians frantically worked to bring the radio system up, the dispatchers tried to determine where to send help. They reached a road supervisor, via his hand held radio, and he began driving the route of the bus. Luckily, the supervisor quickly found the bus and help was summoned to the seriously injured pedestrian.

“Unfortunately, the new system continues to fail,” says Hansen. “The stress these repeat radio system failures place on the dispatchers, operators and supervisors is tremendous. In the last month, the system has failed at least three times. That is three times too many when lives are at risk.” Hansen blames the radio problems on the fact that TriMet never involved the dispatchers in the radio system selection process. “The workers’ expertise was once again ignored during the multi-million dollar purchase. In the past, the workers were involved and the end result was equipment that worked better and had fewer problems.”
 The really sad part about this is the dispatchers that bring up the problem is being labeled as trouble makers or not wanting to do their jobs. Trimet has spent millions on this system and it still has bugs that one day might cause someone their life or serious injuries.
 And now, the  Coup de grĂ¢ce, listen for yourself to the 


Jason McHuff said...

I looked for the communication with the supervisor which should offer good evidence, but unfortunately, there were other things happening at the time, including a streetcar dead car tow, so I did not find it.

But I did find the supervisor's incident summary.

Anonymous said...

Can I fact check the Fact Checker? You said "Now let's see what Shirley Block has to say about this. Shirley Block runs the dispatch center, she would actually know the truth."


Shirley Block DOES NOT run the dispatch center. Shirley Block is in charge of writing bus re-routes. She is not a dispatcher. She just has an office near the dispatchers. Jay Jackson runs the dispatch center.

Another case of "I'll say what ever I want to make Trimet look dumb"

Al M said...

It appears 'Anonymous' didn't even bother to read what Shirley wrote.

Don H said...

Al, I think what Anon. was getting at is that you were incorrect in the position of Shirley Block, and not what she said. He is correct. She is not in charge or over dispatchers. She is the union rep. for them, but does not supervise them in any way.

Al M said...

Thanks Don H, I corrected the post.

Jason McHuff said...

One issue is that the operator really shouldn't have used the silent alarm/covert mic in this situation. The microphones may not be the greatest since they're covert and, for better or worse, dispatch cannot call or talk while the mic is active. Plus, the incident happened outside the bus.

Not excusing any system defects (there seems to be agreement that it was restarted), and its possible the operator activated the covert mic out of panic of seeing the person get hit.

Lastly, here's an updated link to the summary:

Anonymous said...

Trimet's mismanagement sure gave me a lot of laughs my last few years there....sighed, sunsetbob