Richard Deiser, a former Bus Department director and union vice president, died Feb. 28. He was 79 years old.
Richard Deiser, a former Bus Department vice president, passed away Feb. 28 at age 79.
“Rich was a great union brother who will be sorely missed by those who had the pleasure to work with him,” SMART Transportation Division Vice President Calvin Studivant said. “We extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his wife and kids as well as all his loved ones.”
Deiser, of Dumont, N.J., was born July 2, 1940, in Bronx, N.Y. After high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served for eight years while also attending the University of Maryland at the same time, taking extension courses.
After his discharge from the service, he worked for many years with Trans World Airlines in the air freight, meteorology and crew scheduling departments.
He began his career as a bus operator with Rockland Coaches in 1983. Immediately active in the affairs of his local, Deiser was appointed shop steward in 1985 and elected secretary in 1988. In 1998 he was elected as general chairperson of Local 1558, Bergenfield, N.J. He was re-elected three times to that position and also attained the offices of delegate and legislative representative.
After serving for six years as alternate vice president-bus-East, Deiser was elevated to vice president and director of the Bus Department in July 2009.
He served in that capacity until his retirement in 2011.
Brother Deiser is survived by his wife of 56 years, three children, five grandchildren, a great-grandson and a number of brothers and sisters.
Family and friends are welcome to celebrate Richard’s life from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Frech-McKnight Funeral Home, 161 Washington Ave., Dumont, NJ 07628. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 3 at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Dumont. Donations in Deiser’s memory and in lieu of flowers may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, KS 66675-8516.
SMART Transportation Division expresses its condolences to Brother Deiser’s family, friends and his brothers and sisters out of Local 1558.
Read the full obituary.
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, introduced S.3215 on July 16, a companion bill to the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act.
In June, Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D – Calif.) and Congressman John Katko (R — N.Y.) introduced the original bill, H.R.6016, that would enhance the safety of bus drivers nationwide.
“Ensuring a safe work environment for transit operators is crucial to improving our transportation system for both passengers and employees,” Van Hollen said. “This legislation makes a long overdue push to improve safety conditions for these men and women — and invests the resources to make it happen.”
Immediately upon the legislation’s introduction, SMART Transportation Division leaders announced their support for the bill, and they also support Van Hollen’s bill.
“There have been gruesome, inexcusable acts that have been committed on our bus members including shootings, stabbings and beatings, and little has been done about it. We need adequate driver shields and mandatory de-escalation training,” said National Legislative Director John Risch. “Our pledge is to continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure all bus operators are given the protection they deserve.”
Countless news reports of incidents involving spitting, beatings and stabbings by unruly passengers have left SMART TD bus drivers as victims of frequent violence. A college student critically injured in a stabbing April 9 while he rode on a bus owned by Montebello Bus Lines (MBL), whose workers are represented by Local 1701, died in June of his injury.
“Every day we hear major news stories of bus drivers being beaten, having items thrown at them, spitted upon, and verbally abused. LA Metro, for instance, which operates in my district experiences approximately 130 assaults on bus drivers per year,” Napolitano said in a news release. “This is an unthinkable experience for drivers, and it also has major safety impacts on passengers, motorists and pedestrians, as these assaults often occur while the bus is moving.”
Both the House and Senate legislation require transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.
“There is no higher priority than operator safety. On a daily basis, we see reports of drivers getting assaulted and having their lives irreversibly changed because they were behind the controls just doing their jobs,” said SMART TD Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant. “This critical legislation will significantly improve bus driver safety through risk reduction programs and other safety requirements.”
The Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act and its Senate companion bill continue to build on SMART TD’s efforts to protect bus drivers and eliminate operator assaults, but the effort of members is needed to get political leaders to support the legislation via the Legislative Action Center.
H.R. 6016 as of July 24 had 36 cosponsors — two Republicans and 34 Democrats. It has been referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
S.3215 has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and co-sponsors are being sought.
WASHINGTON – Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant has been named by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Anne Ferro to a 20-member congressionally created Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.
The committee will provide advice and recommendations to Ferro on safety programs and regulations affecting bus and truck drivers, their equipment and employers.
Studivant is a member of Local 759 (Newark, N.J.) and is employed as a driver by Community Coach, where he is UTU general chairperson and delegate from his local. He also serves as chairperson of the Association of General Chairpersons, District 3.
He recently assisted officers of First Student, Buffalo, N.Y., and the Red Arrow Division of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia negotiate new contracts, and is currently assisting in contract negotiations on behalf of Charlotte Area Transit System drivers who recently voted to return to UTU representation.