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I am a regular rider on North County Transit District (NCTD) buses and the Sprinter. Over the years, I've developed friendships with several of the bus drivers. Their union, which includes maintenance workers (about 80) and bus drivers (210) voted recently to determine if they wanted to be part of the negotiations to bring in a private company.

Cost overruns associated with Sprinter rail service, coupled with dwindling federal and state subsidies, are thought to be the driving force behind this move. Two private companies being considered are Veolia (headquartered in Illinois) and First Transit (based in Cincinnati, Ohio). The bus drivers think that Veolia is progressive and treats employees well; they’re not as positive about a possible takeover by First Transit.

The bus drivers say that privatization is pretty much guaranteed, and a June 2010 takeover date is projected. They speculate that privatization will bring major changes to the bus service and expect reduced hourly wages (perhaps as low as $13/hour).

The NCTD also plans to contract services to produce a comprehensive operational analysis. The study will include a market assessment, service assessment, and operations assessment and is anticipated to cost between $250,000 and $400,000.

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sbk1923z May 29, 2009 @ 11:58 a.m.

I (Linda McKnight) talked to Jesse Perez, a business manager with the Teamsters Local 542, this morning. He offered this additional information:

The Teamsters are against outsourcing, because management by a for-profit company would likely mean less pay and benefits for employees. (One difference would be that employees would no longer be eligible for CalPERS). He said that outsourcing is not guaranteed, because the NCTD Board of Directors must still vote on outsourcing. NCTD must still also solicit bids through a Request for Proposal (RFP), and then organizations (including Veolia and First Transit) would be able to bid on the work.

Mr. Perez said that the recent vote was regarding the maintenance contract. Maintenance workers were asked if they would be willing to open their contract for renegotiation. The vote indicated that they were unwilling to do so, unless outsourcing was taken off the table, and their jobs were secured. Mr. Matthew Tucker, the NCTD Executive Director, is willing to continue talks with the Union, to determine if there is any compromise position.

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Robert Johnston May 29, 2009 @ 2:37 p.m.

Just another example of what happens when a company adopts a Corneilius Vanderbilt-like atitude towards their clients.

That, and the fact that NCTD's board would love to filp the Teamsters the old "one-fingered salute" by outsourcing maintenence to a non-union company, shows me where NCTD's leadership have their priorities...and it's not to improve service, execpt to their bank accounts.

What the former head of NCTD did was bad enough. With more cuts in state funding on the horizon, NCTD may yet cease to exist in about five years...unless we riders take a stand and fight back for what we have left!

Otherwise, more routes will be shut down, remaining service will be less frequent, and the price of fares and passes will explode. Not a happy scenario, would you say?

--LPR48619

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rickeysays May 30, 2009 @ 4:49 p.m.

Maybe it's time to stop subsidizing mass transit, and make it pay it's own way, like the post office. If fares covered costs, we wouldn't have to talk about outsourcing as a way to reduce them. It would also allow people to understand the true operating costs of these mass transit systems, and maybe the next bond boondoggle that appeared on the ballot would be looked at in a different light.

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