Sunday, February 15, 2015

Trimet bus driver writes to Joe Rose

This letter was sent to Joe Rose and several other news agencies

Bus Safety Issues/Concerns
                3000 series busses
Left side drivers mirror critically restricts, blocks vision area, at intersections and for left hand turns.
                                Response: Been told that person needs to be retrained or totally ignore the issue when brought up.
                                Window extension blocks vision. Especially at narrow intersections
                                Shadows, lights and reflections bounce off windows.
Light panel is above your head (difficult to read if you wear glasses).
Seats cannot be lowered if you’re a short statue person.
Turn signal controls to close/narrow. (Got my foot caught while driving in a 3200).
Seat belt catches and is hard to get out.
Rear door that stays open.
Inside windshield not clean, creating glare during the day and night when lights hit it.
Inside audible bells and announcements are shrill.

Other busses
*      Most recent concern was a 2600 series bus I had that when both doors were opened, moved!                
                All others:
Seats broken, alarm not working, soiled, can’t be adjusted.
Rear door that stays open.
Front and rear doors that open and shut on their own.
Preventing you to move without shutting down the bus and resetting the battery.
Mirror mechanism broken-mirror bars that are tweaked.
Front end alignment, shaky/sloppy.
Ramp audible warning shrill especially in close quarters.
Duct tape used to fix vs. repair the broken part.
Air conditioning not working and over heating busses.
Interior not being cleaned properly.
Filters are filthy.
Layers of dirt on floor in driver’s compartment and dash area.
Food and spills in drivers compartment area.
Passenger seats soiled.
Trash cans that are never cleaned.

Radio failure lack of communication with dispatch resorting for me to use my cell phone to call dispatch.
1st Recertification class spending 1.5 hours about Facebook.
2nd Recertification class again about Facebook.
Schedules are not written to reflect the actuality of the passenger demographics, load or the time of day and traffic. As if to squeeze every minute out of the operator during recovery time forcing many to turn and burn. If the operator takes their breaks then this makes them consistently late all night.  Personally in a 10 hr day I may be out of the seat 3 times a total of 24 minutes while doing the 4 line.

The 1202 I am doing now is the same line I did last spring (1201).  I spoke to the schedulers about not having enough running time.  I was told it takes 6 months to fix the problems. The problems are still there. Nothing has changed on the 21 and 93. No adjustment to their time to have the scheduled departure time 5 minutes later. There is not enough time to get to Tigard for people to connect with the 93 or else they have to wait an hour. On the flip side to Parkrose there is not enough time to connect with the last 21.  And then from Parkrose to get downtown there is hardly enough time for customers to connect with the 33 or wait an hour. I always have to call dispatch to hold those busses because I insist on following the traffic laws and up most being safe.

When this issue was brought up with the scheduler recently his response to me was he was not there to make connections! So late at night when it’s so vital that people make their connections or be stranded it is not his priority.  This is the attitude I find alarming and with the current scheduling fantasy and sets up the operators and the agency for failure. 

Running for the bus has been the current behavior tendency.  One that needs to be discouraged for safety reasons. People no longer can depend on the bus to be at or to leave at the scheduled time. Forcing people to run for the bus because they don’t know when the next one will show up. The unrealistic schedules are not serving the public.

Also this creates busses in bunching up. Some operators are told to drop off only, passing up waiting customers, forcing them to wait longer for the next bus with a limited time on their transfer to get home. How is this serving the public?
This sets up the driver to be blamed, to be the fall guy because this is who the public sees. Theses schedules are out of our control and when addressed it is heard with deaf ears. So then operators short change themselves to take adequate breaks to eat and recompose because we want to serve the public. We know and have compassion for the people we drive and understand the importance for them to get to their connection or job on time.

As a personal note I know when to call dispatch when I get late or need to take a break. They know me by name. But many operators don’t want to contact dispatch when they get behind or need to take that break. They don’t want to bother dispatch or I think may feel like they aren’t performing their job adequately. When in fact seasoned operators can’t make those schedules work either legally. It is sort of like being intentionally bullied or suffers the repercussions.

Schedules  are written to do twice the work then it should is creating unhealthy physical and mental demands by putting stress on drivers, coupled with busses that are breaking down and customer complaints (SIP’s).  Then if that is not enough the survey management wants everyone to take comes back that driver’s are hostile. It is nothing more than a set up and then you Joe Rose report the bad about operators instead of the responsibilities and lack of support from management from the Kayos that they have created. I personally think it’s the agenda to push people towards more light rail and the urban renewal abuse to keep money rolling in. Sort of like a junkie who needs their next fix.

Lay over’s/break rooms
Some routes are long and do not provide adequate and clean break rooms. Gresham for example is filthy. Who knows the last time the floor has been cleaned. The windows have a thick film of dirt and the shades are also as dirty. The microwave has a build of nuked food and I am sure bacteria that have not been discovered yet live in that microwave. The tables also have a fine greasy film on them.  The vendor coffee machine does not work but takes your money. It is caked up with god knows what. The other vending machine is over-priced junk food. The water fountain is hard to fill up your cup because the water level is so low.   You don’t want to touch anything. The men’s bathroom is horrible. The filters in the ceiling are caked up dust that has been there for years. Gateway is worse!
If you do a 17 then at the Saratoga end you have to walk down this unlit dark path into a room with a bathroom off to the side. Or if you do the 19 you are provided with unlit smelly out houses. Then there is this policy to keep your doors open. I watched a guy get back on my bus after I went in to the break room while he rummaged through the drivers compartment, waiting for him to take off with my coat or the pouch. Oh by the way in that short time Tri Met wants you to take that pouch with you. If it gets stolen or lost we get fined $50. 
I do not think it is safe to leave the door open. Places like St Johns on a 75 or 44 at Pier Park is in a dimly lit park with no one around. Or the 17 at Saratoga, the 33 at Clackamas Community College after hours, a 4 at the Safeway in St Johns late at night are other places the door should be closed when the operator leaves the bus.  I am old school and think people should take personal responsibility I should not be their babysitter. Leaving the door open at some stops while the operator is out of the bus creates an unsafe work environment.
Lastly operators health and well being is important. Moral is down. So many are overweight, have high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes, depression etc. We work long hours, miss family time and holidays. We have schedules opposite of most people. I take the same people to work that I bring home. I put in long days, 13 hours a day for me taking in my time to get to work until I get home. I feel we are being worked to death. I am exhausted at the end of the week, with little or no energy left. Even more now with the forced block schedules we have had shoved down our throat. As I said I am a seasoned driver. 17 years at Tri Met 10 years as a school bus driver. Up until the last five years I was happy with Tri Met. I came to work happy and left happy. But now I feel I am being exploited and used and I know management does not care. They hire people to manage who have never ever driven a bus. They cannot relate to the reality of the job. When you have a manager who Google’s the intersection you’re talking about instead of going out in the field or experiencing the intersection than you have a problem. 
Bikes are a major concern. Your responsibility should be to address this issue concerning safety. Bikes need to stop at red lights and stop signs, not run them. Have lights on front and back to be seen even in the day. Don’t squeeze in between the bus and cars on the left of the bus to get around. Follow the law and the rules of the road and be courteous to pedestrians at cross walks. Don’t ride on the sidewalk and run over passengers when they get off the bus. And to make sure they get the attention of the bus driver when they are putting their bike on and tell them always when they are taking them off the bus. Personal responsibility again.
Then I haven’t even touched upon the many assaults against operators. Obama logic and Gruber attitude that being spat on, management can’t say the word assault, calling it just work place violence and we are to stupid to know the difference. Only in Oregon, but that’s right they voted for Kitzhaber even after there were charges against him for ethics violation!  And therefore is the non ethical structure, character and caliber of the Tri Met board and General Manager.
I took my valuable day off to express my concerns about Tri Met. I stand the chance of retaliation for expressing my opinions and concerns about a government agency I work for. But I am tired of being over worked and exploited for their personal gain. My measly two week vacation to Neals 11 weeks. I didn’t see you report about the  Cadillac  insurance/assurance  Randy  acquired after the bogus contract that was forced down our throats. Or how about the $12,000 retirement Fred gets to my $1,200 pension that they want to take away from me now. It is my intent to educate you Joe Rose and I hope that you take these issues and other operators concern seriously. That if you choose to address these issues you do it with dignity, honesty and without bias. Safety is my core value.


Steve Fung said...

That sums up all the complaints that I had during my 5 1/2 year tenure as a driver.

Erik H. said...

If it doesn't matter to Joseph Rose, it won't be in The Oregonian.

Deke N. Blue said...

Why oh why don't drivers find an editor before submitting a rough draft? It's "buses" first of all.

Good points though. Definitely illustrates an "us vs. them" culture.

always roaming said...

Pertaining to my thread at the CPTDB dealing with left mirrors, I mentioned in a post the other day about what I consider the inept testimony and thoughts of Shelly Lomax in the deposition pertaining to the Sale lawsuit CLICK HERE

My opinion: she's an extraordinarily incompetent manager.

Deke N Blue said...

I missed the point completely, and I apologize for my rudeness. This driver made vital points about our work environment. I agree with each point, and it's worthy of an honorable response.

Unknown said...