Posts Tagged ‘bus’

Bus driver attacked in Edina, Minn., sustains head injuries

On April 3 the Star Tribune reported that a Metro Transit bus driver was assaulted by several teenagers in a noontime attack at the Southdale stop in Edina, Minn. According to authorities, the driver sustained potentially ‘life altering’ head injuries. Read the entire story here.

Short-term disability insurance for bus members

SMART Transportation Division is pleased to announce that after careful study and planning, the Voluntary Short-Term Disability (VSTD) Trustees have decided to terminate the Plan’s contract with Anthem Life effective March 31, 2016. The plan will now be self-funded by SMART effective April 1, 2016, and Southern Benefits Administrators, Inc. will be administering the plan. Coverage will continue to be automatic unless members choose to waive coverage or “opt-out.” The SMART short term disability plan provides a basic “safety net” of coverage for SMART TD bus members and is designed to work in combination with state-mandated disability programs.

Member coverage and premiums remain the same with our new provider.

The SMART short term disability plan pays up to $210 per week for up to 52 weeks a year. Coverage is for off-duty accidents and illness. The cost is $26 per month and is collected through payroll deduction. New SMART TD members will be enrolled automatically unless they choose to opt-out of the plan by submitting a waiver form to SMART TD headquarters. Members desiring additional disability insurance coverage may purchase an individual policy through the UTU Insurance Association. Contact your field supervisor or call the UTUIA Sales Department at (216) 228-9400 for more information. You may view the various new plan documents by Southern Benefit Administrators by clicking on the links below.  

If your date of disability is prior to April 1, 2016, you must submit a claim with Anthem. Use the Anthem claim form and Anthem instructions as provided below.

ANTHEM CLAIMS

Print the attached PDF. This is your Anthem VSTD Policy Certificate for bus members. It is a complete guide to your benefits.

If you have any additional questions, please contact your Regional Field Supervisor here

Metro's top 100 bus survey results announced

bus; CATS; CATS busWith public transportation usage growing around the nation, many agencies are looking at ways to attract millennials, who are looking for more options and driving less and less, according to respondents of METRO’s Top 100 Bus Fleets survey.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) New York City Transit/MTA Bus Co. tops this year’s list with 5,759 total vehicles. Showing some movement this year, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2,378), New Jersey Transit (2,233), Seattle’s King County Metro Transit (1,882) and the Toronto Transit Commission (1,869) round out this year’s top five, which collectively totals 14,121 vehicles, or 21 percent of this year’s overall 66,056 total vehicles — down slightly compared to 2014, although last year’s list ranked the Top 110 bus fleets.

Click here to read the full results of the survey.

Read more from Metro Magazine.

Officers are here to help, membership comes first

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Reddy

By Adhi Reddy, 
Transportation Division Vice President – Bus – 

The year 2015 is a special one for our organization because we left our First SMART Convention as a united membership. Together, with one voice, we are a stronger body throughout the nation.

All of our newly elected representatives from the 2014 conventions have now taken office and I congratulate each of them on their elections. I also ask each of them to always do what is best for the membership. Most of our local elections, and some of our general committee of adjustment elections, have been completed. To the officers that have been elected or re-elected, congratulations.

As officers, we must always remember to do what is the best for our membership. Not only are we officers, but we are the membership as well. So, we must always think like a member first, then as an officer. Our decisions should be in the best interest of all. Also, don’t be afraid to ask others for advice if you are struggling with a decision.

We, your vice presidents, are only a request away from visiting your property. Your general chairperson or your local president may send a request to our Transportation Division president so that we can assist you in a variety of issues, including preparing contract proposals, negotiations, arbitrations and grievances. Remember, your Transportation Division officers are here to help.

We are currently working on guidelines to reduce dues for members in locals where earnings are reduced and hours may not be 40 per week. I will keep you updated about this effort.

On the local level, many of us may not pay much attention to our Legislative Department, which plays a major role in lawmaking efforts. I ask you to pay attention to their efforts and support them, on the state level and the national level, up to the White House. Please see your treasurer to enroll in UTU PAC, an investment in our future.

In many workplaces, discipline policies are getting tougher and tougher to follow, with new managers straight out of college, that never worked the jobs many of us do. If you are experiencing this issue, please talk to your local chairperson as soon as possible.

Happy New Year and God bless.

SEPTA bus operators ink new two-year agreement

SEPTA_logo_150pxMembers of the SMART Transportation Division employed by Southeastern Pennsylvania Metropolitan Transportation Authority ratified Jan. 11 a 2.5-year agreement with the carrier.

The contract, which is retroactive to April 1, 2014, and extends until Nov. 18, 2016, covers bus operators, trolley operators and conductors and operators on the Norristown High Speed Line. They are members of Transportation Division Local 1594 at Upper Darby, Pa.

The deal affects more than 350 members and was ratified by 61 percent of eligible voters who participated in the balloting process, said Transportation Division Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant, who assisted with the negotiations.

Wage adjustments include a two-percent increase following ratification of the agreement and a three-percent increase effective Jan. 10, 2016.

A side letter to the agreement also calls for the authority to establish a “work zone committee” to address work safety issues as they pertain to the transportation department.

Studivant congratulates General Chairperson and Local President Waverly Harris, former Vice Local Chairperson Brian Caldwell, and Vice Local Chairpersons Curtis Fulmore, Dave Stinsman, Eric Goodwin and Anthony Petty for their arduous efforts in obtaining this agreement.

“A lot of hours were dedicated to finalizing this collective bargaining agreement. I commend the local officers for their diligence and preparation and the membership that participated in the ratification vote,” Studivant said.

At least 10 killed when prison bus hits train in Texas

PENWELL, Texas – At least 10 people were killed Wednesday when a bus carrying state prisoners skidded off an icy highway overpass in West Texas, slid down an embankment and collided with a passing train, a county sheriff said.

The overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the roadway just west of Odessa, according to Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

FMCSA to maintain random drug testing rates in 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that the annual minimum random controlled substances testing rates for employees in safety sensitive positions, including tractor-trailer and bus drivers, will remain at 50 percent through 2015.  The agency’s decision to maintain the current testing rate was based on data from motor carrier industry controlled substance lab test results, the 2012 drug and alcohol testing survey, and additional investigations, which showed that:

  • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012;
  • Reasonable suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6 percent in 2010, to 15.7 percent in 2011 and 37.2 percent in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the 3-year period;
  • The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012.  FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80 percent of the reported tests;
  • Serious controlled substance and alcohol testing violations were identified in 24 percent of recent compliance investigations; and 
  • A two-week 2014 Strike Force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle.  These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials.

While results for FMCSA’s 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey of approximately 2,000 carriers indicate that positive random drug testing results have decreased for a second year, the agency is committed to seeking additional information related to driver test rates and will continue to monitor industry testing programs before re-evaluating the controlled substances random test rate for 2016. 

Sleep apnea should not cost operators jobs or pay

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Studivant

Operators employed in the transit industry continue to experience difficult times in relation to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Several types of sleep apnea exist, but the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. The most noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Transit Administration have identified fatigue and undiagnosed sleep apnea as high-risk vulnerabilities for transit operators, and as an element of probable cause for numerous transit accidents.

In 2013, Congress enacted a law prohibiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from implementing or enforcing requirements relating to sleep disorders unless adopted by a rule-making proceeding. However, it did not apply to any requirement in force before Sept. 1, 2013, at which time there were guidelines for screening and testing.

Many questions remain unanswered because it seems carrier medical review officers (MRO) are making determinations on employees based on their beliefs, as opposed to actual physical examinations. The only way a respiratory problem can be detected is through a sleep study and an MRO should request a sleep study if he or she believes there is a problem.

There is also the issue of the costs of medical examinations and who is responsible for payment. Physical examinations required by carriers based on Department of Transportation regulations should be paid for by the carrier. Also, a sleep study is no excuse for an operator to be put out of service.

We must seek a resolution to this problem and stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure our members are not being put out of service and to ensure that the carriers assume the cost of any sleep studies performed.

After a sleep study is completed and the diagnosis is indeed sleep apnea, there are treatment options, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, dental devices and surgical options.

As more information becomes available concerning this disorder and DOT guidelines, we will make sure that all of our members are well informed.

 

Thank you for your support, I am here to assist you

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Reddy

To each and every delegate of the SMART Transportation Division, I would like to thank you for electing me to the position of vice president of SMART’s bus department.

My request to all SMART members is to please work with all of your newly elected officers at all levels of the organization. Keep all of your officers informed regarding the issues you face on a daily basis so they can bring your issues to the table and together, we can get the best deals for our membership.

As a local officer, I was not only a member of this organization, but I also worked for the membership. I was, and remain, a middleman between our individual members and our entire SMART organization. I am here to serve.

We have a very powerful organization in SMART, with more than 130,000 active and retired Transportation Division members. We must continue to work together with our brothers and sisters – for our brothers and sisters – to keep our union strong. We – your officers – are ready to work for you if only you allow us to do so.

Knowledge is power. I ask each of you to try to attend all of your local meetings to stay informed and to educate yourself about your agreements and your fellow members. There are a lot of federal and state rules and regulations in the transportation industry, along with workplace policies. Change is happening all the time, so try your best to keep up with changes that affect you. It is easier to follow the rules by knowing them in advance than learning about them after you have been disciplined.

In our business, time limits are very important. If you feel your contract has been violated, contact your local officers immediately, or leave a note in the union mailbox. I have seen, too many times, members waiting too long to notify their local officers of violations and losing cases because they were not filed in a timely manner.

My telephone number is (216) 287-9324 and my email address is areddy@smart-union.org. I am here to assist you.

The holidays will be here before we know it, so I wish all of you and your families a very happy holiday season. Be “SMART” and be union! I hope to see all of you soon.

 

FMCSA promotes safety belt use in kids' contest

bus2WASHINGTON – On Nov. 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will kick-off the 2015 “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” student art contest organized by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership. Open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade with relatives or sponsors in the commercial truck and bus industries, the contest educates kids about highway safety and urges commercial drivers to buckle up on every trip.

“Buckling your safety belt should be an automatic practice for every driver and passenger since it’s the simplest and most effective way to save your life in the event of a crash,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The purpose of this art contest is to engage children and their parents in discussing safety and to provide a calendar of kids’ artwork that serves as a year-round reminder to always buckle-up.”

In just the last three years, safety belt use has continued to rise among medium-to-heavy truck and bus drivers to an all-time high of 84 percent, according to a 2013 FMCSA study. While good news, there is room for improvement. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent data from 2012 showed that 697 occupants of large trucks were killed in crashes; approximately 40 percent were not wearing safety belts.

“The good news is that overall safety belt use for professional bus and truck drivers has steadily increased each year and as a direct result, more lives are being saved,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We are focused on reminding every driver that there is never an excuse to skip the important step of buckling up.”

FMCSA will accept contest submissions through Feb. 28, 2015. Students can submit their artwork by mail to the following address:

CMV Safety Belt Partnership
c/o CVSA
Attention: Nicole Leandro
6303 Ivy Lane, Suite 310
Greenbelt, MD 20770

Artwork will be evaluated in two categories: one for kindergarten through second grade, and another for third through sixth grade.

Twelve winners will be selected in April 2015, and their artwork will appear in the 2016 “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” contest calendar.

All 12 students will also be honored at a ceremony at USDOT headquarters to be held in the spring. To see last year’s winners and learn more about the “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” contest, visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/safety-belt/index.htm.

L.A. bus passenger tells driver: 'I have ebola'

LOS ANGELES – Sheriff’s deputies were searching for a man Monday (Oct. 13) who made threats while traveling on a Metro bus through Lincoln Heights.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a man and a woman boarded the bus from Line 33 around 1:45 p.m. at Venice Boulevard and Hoover Street.

Read the complete story at CBS Los Angeles.

DOT expands program to help vets get bus op jobs

special_bus_150pxWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that its waiver program that helps experienced veterans and active duty personnel transition into civilian jobs as commercial truck and bus drivers has been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve good-paying jobs when they return home from serving overseas and we are proud to help,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Thousands of active duty service members and veterans have already transferred their skills to jobs driving trucks and buses through the Military Skills Test Waiver Program and we look forward to helping even more now that we’ve expanded to all 50 states.”

On June 27, 2014, Alaska became the 50th state to participate in the FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver Program. Begun in 2011, the Program grants state licensing agencies, including the District of Columbia, the authority to waive the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s license application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus. Waiving the skills test expedites the civilian commercial drivers licensing application process and reduces expenses for qualified individuals and operating costs to state licensing agencies.

The effort is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to promote expanded employment and career development opportunities for veterans and military spouses.

The July 25 announcement also includes two additional expansions of the program.

First, the eligibility period for qualified individuals to obtain an FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver has been extended from 90 days to one year, nationwide.

Second, commencing with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL). FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.

“Commercial drivers fulfill a vital role ensuring that America’s economy continually moves forward,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Service members who have clocked countless miles safely working behind the wheel of a military vehicle will now have more time and opportunity to find long-term employment in the commercial driving industry. Reducing the burden of finding civilian jobs is one of the best ways we can thank members of our military and their families for their service to our nation.”

From 2010 to 2020, the need for heavy-vehicle drivers is expected to grow by more than 17 percent – faster than the national average for other occupations.

To date, more than 6,000 current and former military personnel – including Reserves, National Guard, and U.S. Coast Guard service members – have taken advantage of FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program, which has been conducted in close cooperation with the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).

Additional information, including a standardized application form accepted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is available at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/military.