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Busjack

CTA driver training and picks

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Probably better to start a new thread than append this to the accident one.

Tribune article that Dorval Carter says that  "newly hired bus drivers through a longer and more rigorous training period" and said this is not a direct response to the accident.*

However, then goes back to the seniority pick system, where those with less seniority get the most difficult routes and split runs. But then he says that he can't do anything about that without the union, which says it will talk but not do away with the seniority system. Aside from pegging this on the union, I don't see how CTA can do away with split runs unless the rush hour is eliminated. You can't put all the new NP drivers on 11 and 96.

Any reaction from those on the pick list?

____________

*The announcement now undoubtedly also based on his having been in the Legal Dept.

BTW, how many years has it been since ATU Local 241 had a president, after Jefferson was taken out by the International?

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Even operators higher in seniority drive split shifts. That's just something you have to be willing to accept as working in the transportation industry. The accident downtown doesn't seem to be driver fatigue issue. It sounds more like a road rage incident. The attorneys must have good reason to include the operator on the lawsuit. So far they know more than the public but we may soon know once this goes to trial or the NTSB announces it's findings.

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While longer and more rigorous training may help,  it won't do see away with rookie drivers getting difficult runs.   Usually if a rookie ends up with a split shift run or runs,  either a veteran driver has called off for the day or is on vacation or leave.   There also could be unbidden runs.   I believe the main thing for senior drivers is weekend and holidays off.  Straight runs in the morning will tend to go first.  Mr CTA can attest to what a driver thinks about when bidding. 

I also don't know if rookies have much choice where they work.  Some of my friends that started with CTA as rookies did rookie time at North Park although I know one who was able to get in at Forest Glen.   Somehow he got credit for his time driving at Pace  All of them except that FG operator lived closer to other garages. 

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...

I also don't know if rookies have much choice where they work.  Some of my friends that started with CTA as rookies did rookie time at North Park although I know one who was able to get in at Forest Glen.   Somehow he got credit for his time driving at Pace  All of them except that FG operator lived closer to other garages. 

​I don't know about what choice anyone has on a system pick, but basically only FG has a number of routes that are not difficult; the other garages either have routes that run downtown (i.e. NP is mostly downtown, even though it isn't, same for 77th and 103rd), or are heavy for other reasons (9 and 49 out of 74th, 66 and 74 out of C). FG has some of these (56, 77, 81), but also a lot of light ones.

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The pick part is for the money so they get build their pensions liked my friend who worked a 9 hour run and overtime now retire with a excellent pensions money  than driver a bus. My other friend liked the block run that have 3 days off because he do not liked the split shift run.

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​I don't know about what choice anyone has on a system pick, but basically only FG has a number of routes that are not difficult; the other garages either have routes that run downtown (i.e. NP is mostly downtown, even though it isn't, same for 77th and 103rd), or are heavy for other reasons (9 and 49 out of 74th, 66 and 74 out of C). FG has some of these (56, 77, 81), but also a lot of light ones.

​Valid point on the difficulty of routes and the correlation of the seniority on the pick system, but we also have to remember CTA routes generally don't operate in a bubble. From CTA's point of view when it comes to the NP example for instance, they would probably easily say those routes in question are more north side routes than they are downtown since those routes going running downtown don't generally stay within the boundaries of downtown. Similar argument for 77th and 103rd from the opposite end. Kedzie has most of the truly downtown routes in the strictest sense.xD But getting back to the central topic, they do need to do a better job at stringent training if they are going to have the rookies and other less senior operators on the hardest routes and can't get the union to budge much on getting a more even balance between seniority and experience against route difficulty. Plus as you say all the rookies can't go on 11 or 96 in NP's case. 

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​Valid point on the difficulty of routes and the correlation of the seniority on the pick system, but we also have to remember CTA routes generally don't operate in a bubble. From CTA's point of view when it comes to the NP example for instance, they would probably easily say those routes in question are more north side routes than they are downtown since those routes going running downtown don't generally stay within the boundaries of downtown. Similar argument for 77th and 103rd from the opposite end. Kedzie has most of the truly downtown routes in the strictest sense.xD But getting back to the central topic, they do need to do a better job at stringent training if they are going to have the rookies and other less senior operators on the hardest routes and can't get the union to budge much on getting a more even balance between seniority and experience against route difficulty. Plus as you say all the rookies can't go on 11 or 96 in NP's case. 

​I thought the definition was that they entered the central business district. Considering that FG and NP are both north of Foster, there are sure plenty more NP routes that do.

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​I thought the definition was that they entered the central business district. Considering that FG and NP are both north of Foster, there are sure plenty more NP routes that do.

​Sorry, just a little joke that popped in my head playing on semantics and the thinking of CTA managment (or lack thereof in some cases in our other discussions).

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While longer and more rigorous training may help,  it won't do see away with rookie drivers getting difficult runs.   Usually if a rookie ends up with a split shift run or runs,  either a veteran driver has called off for the day or is on vacation or leave.   There also could be unbidden runs.   I believe the main thing for senior drivers is weekend and holidays off.  Straight runs in the morning will tend to go first.  Mr CTA can attest to what a driver thinks about when bidding.

I also don't know if rookies have much choice where they work.  Some of my friends that started with CTA as rookies did rookie time at North Park although I know one who was able to get in at Forest Glen.   Somehow he got credit for his time driving at Pace  All of them except that FG operator lived closer to other garages.

​Here is part of the problem: Until the 1970's there was a lot more evening and overnight service, and new drivers got this work at first. This was actually a great thing, as you got to get a feel for the job a lot more working late when there was a lot less traffic and less passengers. As time went on, you were able to pick earlier runs, then after 5 or so years swings, and after 10 or so AM's. But this has all changed since 1) CTA started hiring part-timers (which started in 1982) and 2) CTA eliminated most late service. Part timers were initially hired SPECIFICALLY FOR swings, and later they started using them on weekends at late nights (ostensibly because full-timers did not want to work these hours, so the union got CTA to make that "part time work", even though some of these weekend runs are 10+ hours. The only real way to deal with this would be to go back to all full-timers, but because 241 allowed CTA to get rid of the "daily minimum guarantee" under which most swings which worked anywhere from 5 to 7 hours platform time still paid 8 hours, the union will never agree to this. So the current system of rookies working swings is now ironbound, no matter what Carver thinks he can do to change anything.

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... The only real way to deal with this would be to go back to all full-timers, but because 241 allowed CTA to get rid of the "daily minimum guarantee" under which most swings which worked anywhere from 5 to 7 hours platform time still paid 8 hours, the union will never agree to this. So the current system of rookies working swings is now ironbound, no matter what Carver thinks he can do to change anything.

​Somehow, you seem to be pinning this on the union, when the union would certainly agree to anyone gets $32.25/hour and a guaranteed 40 hour week's pay, plus benefits. The real issue is that CTA can get bus drivers willing to be paid $16.13/hour and theoretically limited to 30 hours/week. If the supply and demand situation is still like it was a couple of years ago, when thousands lined up for 400 jobs, no reason for CTA to ask the union for anything, unless somehow paying everyone $32.25/hour (a $64,000 minimum annual salary) would result in a more competent workforce.

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The reality is you are not going to do any major changes in work rules that 241 has not agreed to. Personally I think what would be better would be to have a setup where when you are hired on you go on extra board with no minimum guarantee, you get what you get. When manpower is tight, you might get 40+ hours from week one, while times when manpower is plentiful you might not get even 20 hours. Once you get enough seniority to pick a run, you get whatever the run pays. If you stay on extra board, you never have any guarantees. (By the way, this is exactly how it worked in CSL days) Remember, especially these days there are older people applying for these jobs that are often getting a military or civil service pension and are just looking for part-time work to have some extra money and they are not really interested in working their tails off like a thirtysomething with a mortgage and a couple of kids. But the union would have to agree to this, and I don't think that is likely.

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The reality is you are not going to do any major changes in work rules that 241 has not agreed to. Personally I think what would be better would be to have a setup where when you are hired on you go on extra board with no minimum guarantee, you get what you get. When manpower is tight, you might get 40+ hours from week one, while times when manpower is plentiful you might not get even 20 hours. Once you get enough seniority to pick a run, you get whatever the run pays. If you stay on extra board, you never have any guarantees. (By the way, this is exactly how it worked in CSL days) Remember, especially these days there are older people applying for these jobs that are often getting a military or civil service pension and are just looking for part-time work to have some extra money and they are not really interested in working their tails off like a thirtysomething with a mortgage and a couple of kids. But the union would have to agree to this, and I don't think that is likely.

​But the issue raised by Carter was not minimum pay for the extra board (Claypool thought there were too many on the extra board to being with), but how to stick more experienced drivers with the tougher runs.

Now, I suppose it could be something like in the steel mills, where there was a progression. In this case, there could be Bus Operator, Senior Bus Operator, Master Bus Operator, etc. and those qualifying for Master Bus Operator pay would have to take a trip into the CBD between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. That would have to be collectively bargained. However, so long as the only progression is $16.13 or $32.25 for Bus Operator, the pick is strictly by seniority, and CTA has the business necessity of split shifts for the reason you stated, I don't see that there is anything for CTA to present to the union.

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One thing that kind of stands out to me was the announcement of part timers being able to shift bid. Now they have the part timers in a seniority situation that guarantees the newer hires get the worst runs. If they opened that up and took away the pto bids then all pto's would basically get a somewhat equal piece of the pie. Maybe they could make an exception for someone who is eligible for full time, and they could have a separate pick. The rest including the extra board would not change. How did it work before pto's could shift bid?

 
 
 

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One thing that kind of stands out to me was the announcement of part timers being able to shift bid. Now they have the part timers in a seniority situation that guarantees the newer hires get the worst runs. If they opened that up and took away the pto bids then all pto's would basically get a somewhat equal piece of the pie. Maybe they could make an exception for someone who is eligible for full time, and they could have a separate pick. The rest including the extra board would not change. How did it work before pto's could shift bid?

 
 
 

​At this time if you are a PTO you can do one of two things:

1) Pick a block that usually includes roughly 25-28 hours per week. Some blocks are strictly Mon-Fri, working splits with weekends off, others work full runs on weekends (roughly 8 hours each day) and about another 10-12 hours on splits on two weekdays, with three days off.

2) Work extra board where work is assigned basically on how many hours you have worked that week. You most likely will work four days a week, with two weekdays (rotating) and often Sundays off. If you happen to catch a longer run, for instance a Yellow Line Shuttle, which is usually 8 hours, you might get only a short piece another day that week, like a 2-hour school tripper.

Whether PTO's can pick runs has varied from pick to pick. About 2 years back, there were a couple of picks where all PTO's were on extra board, but assignment clerks complained they had too much work, so they went back to picking.

Originally when the number of PTO's was small in the 1980's basically they were assigned an AM tripper piece and a PM tripper piece and they worked the same every week unless the piece was annulled (such as again a school tripper, where a lot were used). Some of these pieces were incredibly small, such as one that pulled out of Kedzie Garage via Kedzie-Cermak, went into service as an 82 at Central Park and Cermak, and was relieved NB at Jackson, roughly 2 hours report to clear. This was strictly so the regular run involved would not go over 10 hours pay. At the time PTO's were not used as extra board, as FTO's were still getting daily minimum guarantee, so there was every incentive to give them something to do and almost all work was still scheduled to be at least 7 hours, with many more swings than now.

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Extra board work for FTO's is assigned as follows: The highest on the list get morning runs, assigned on the basis of finishing time (up to 2pm), so the first man on the board will always get about a 3-4am start. After that, work is assigned on the basis of when the run starts, so basically most swings come next and then the PM's. The real problem is when you are in the part of the list where one day you get a swing starting at 6am and finishing at 6pm, and the next day a PM starting at 10am and finishing at 6pm. And, despite increasing the number of PTO's that get these swing runs dramatically over the last few years, there are still swings being filled by FTO's.

Now you want to get into a real nasty racket, consider how work was assigned on the rail (until recently). Tomorrow's extra board order was determined by quit time today, first in, first out, only consideration being 8 hours between quit and start (and I do mean 8 hours exactly in many cases!). So you could get into a cycle where your first day after days off you worked a midnight, next day a PM, next day a AM. No wonder the unfortunate fell asleep entering O'Hare at 3am.

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​But the issue raised by Carter was not minimum pay for the extra board (Claypool thought there were too many on the extra board to being with), but how to stick more experienced drivers with the tougher runs.

Now, I suppose it could be something like in the steel mills, where there was a progression. In this case, there could be Bus Operator, Senior Bus Operator, Master Bus Operator, etc. and those qualifying for Master Bus Operator pay would have to take a trip into the CBD between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. That would have to be collectively bargained. However, so long as the only progression is $16.13 or $32.25 for Bus Operator, the pick is strictly by seniority, and CTA has the business necessity of split shifts for the reason you stated, I don't see that there is anything for CTA to present to the union.

​Claypool was almost universally hated by the hired help for what he did. Krusei was somewhat feared, since he was given to sneaking around looking for "malingerers", but most drivers saw Claypool as simply being out to screw them. The single biggest result of Claypool's "efficiencies" was that now whenever there is anything out of the ordinary, like the Yellow Line Shuttle, the clerks are reduced to begging people to work second runs just to get the service out the door. Any you know what the definition of a "missed run" is? When no part went out at all. If you found somebody to do a half trip of a run that is supposed to do six, that is not a missed run! So I can see if Claypool had his way, eventually CTA would have had to resort to involuntary overtime, i.e. - you work one of your days off whether you like it or not, like in Las Vegas. And people wonder why a large number of drivers no longer give a hoot about doing a good job. You wouldn't either is the instruction department was telling new hires quite openly that your primary objective has to be to cover your butt at all times, as management is gunning for you from the day you are hired.

CTA used to be a great job. It is still a good job, and it definitely pays good, but "the old gray mare ain't what she used to be".

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They do bring up some interesting ideas about pay structure. Easy routes shouldn't get the pay harder routes get. That would be one way to shift seniority back to the harder routes. Anyone driving an artic should get royalties for driving them, but some routes are easier especially ones going in one direction only. I would pick a #148 any day over a #151. I would also mandate that every driver has to do some downtown work, unless you work in a garage that barely goes down there.

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They do bring up some interesting ideas about pay structure. Easy routes shouldn't get the pay harder routes get. That would be one way to shift seniority back to the harder routes. Anyone driving an artic should get royalties for driving them, but some routes are easier especially ones going in one direction only. I would pick a #148 any day over a #151. I would also mandate that every driver has to do some downtown work, unless you work in a garage that barely goes down there.

As I mentioned earlier, everyone getting $32.25/hour (unless they get $16.13/hour) precludes that unless the union wants to negotiate a salary progression, in which case you can bet that $32.25/hour will be the floor.

With your complaining about parade delays, I bet you would really complain if all service out of Jefferson Park depended on 56 coming back on time.

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Are senior operators the safest drivers? I'm sure CTA has that data. No matter what your seniority if you run a red light, you run a red light. The whole debate about who gets to drive easy or hard routes, is really a debate about safety. Continuous training, safety education and awareness is what reduces accidents. How many deadly accidents has the CTA been involved in the last 15 years? With 1500 or more buses on the streets daily, I would say the current system of how operators pick their work is just fine.

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Premium pay for artics is not exactly unknown in the transit world. Since CTA knows (hopefully) what bus goes with what run, that would not be a difficult problem. Railroads have always incorporated locomotive weight (not train weight!) into pay calculations.

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Sun-Times article about "all those CTA accidents and lawsuits." While taking some time to get to the point that not all are the driver's fault (and having a bizarre example of a driver giving birth during an accident), the union guy essentially made the point Andre and I did above:

One concern is that many veteran drivers have the seniority to pick sleepier routes, leaving busy Loop routes, with bigger buses, often staffed with less-experienced drivers, as was the case in the Coath accident.

Acevedo says his union has pushed for financial “incentives” to encourage veteran drivers to take the wheel of the longer, accordion-style “articulated” buses and to take the more-difficult routes. Those are among the safety-related issues being discussed in current contract negotiations.

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I think its a step in the right direction but to be fair I think all routes should pay by ridership. Yet more controversial would be pay by street volume. Should an operator at 10:00 am being making what a 4pm operator makes. Of course operators with seniority would still make more but say an operator on the #6 or #22 would make the most. Certain routes would have to be deemed artic routes but like say you took out a #135 with a 40 footer I think you should still get the incentive even though you are encouraged to drive the artic. Just by sheer passenger volume would make that fair to me.

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6 minutes ago, BusHunter said:

Just by sheer passenger volume would make that fair to me.

But unmanageable (every pick, would CTA have to get out the ridership report to set the pay rate on the particular run?) and not responsive to the problem reflected in the article that bus drivers are running over pedestrians. Time of day, going into the central business district, and maybe predominantly articulated buses on the route at least would be manageable.

If the argument is that drivers should be paid for dealing with passengers (as opposed to not running over pedestrians), I'm sure 75 packed onto a 40 foot bus is worse than 90 on an artic.

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