Today’s Headlines

  • Drivers Licenses Mean Nothing in New York (Post 1, 2; Bklyn Paper)
  • Lousy Transit Is a Regressive Tax on NYC’s Hardworking Home Health Aides (NYT)
  • Traffic and Inefficient Labor Practices Make MTA Bus Costs Highest in the U.S. (Curbed)
  • Watchdog Groups Want State to Investigate Inflated Subway Power Failure Data (News)
  • Huzzahs for Corey Johnson’s Congestion Pricing Endorsement, de Blasio Not Included (NY1)
  • Raskin: Don’t Let Cuomo Pass the Buck — It’s Still His MTA (C&S)
  • On Regional Infrastructure, Grown-Ups Play Along With Presidential Trump (WNYCNews)
  • Corey Johnson Took TLC Oversight Away From Ydanis and Gave It to Ruben Diaz Sr. (Post)
  • 2 to 4 Years for Unlicensed SI Hit-and-Run Driver Who Injured Child (Advance)
  • Tabloid Traffic Violence Victim-Blaming, Explained: News
  • Damn Bike Lanes (News; Advance 1, 2, 3)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    “In New York, labor arrangements call for eight-hour days. Moreover, the MTA pays drivers by the day: if they work five hours, they still get paid for a full day.”

    I may be known as “anti-labor” by those who think that already privileged labor should become better off at the expense of other, less well off workers. But I wouldn’t say it was fair to have people travel in from the suburbs, where TWU workers live so they don’t have to use mass transit, for half a day’s work.

    I’d do other things to increase productivity — lower pay for new hires to drive smaller vehicles in overnight hours, with promotion to the big buses. More off peak service, if you are going to pay for the bus and driver anyway. And additional non-driving work for drivers during the non-driving part of their shift, cleaning and doing light maintenance, the kind that handy people do on their own cars.

    The reality is, the big costs are for those who aren’t working any hours at all. The retired. There was a massive pension increase in 2000 that drastically increased pension payouts to the long retired — those who had pillaged New York City in the 1960s and 1970s but failed to get an inflation increase added to their pensions, which became less rich and less burdensome over time. Suddenly $billions of extra money went flying out of the pension fund. That money has been failing to provide any investment returns ever since.

    Moreover, the private bus lines had virtually bankrupt pension plans when the city took them over. NYCT agreed to ensure all their retirees got the entire pensions they had been promised, with extra money we pay today.

    I’m sure that today’s workers are getting decent compensation, if one looks at their wages, health benefits, and the normal cost of their pensions. But I’ll bet a large part of the “labor cost” is the hole left by Generation Greed, in exchange for no work whatsoever.

    Never forget that the TWU went on strike in the early 2000s to be able to retire at age 50 after working for just 20 years, and never do anything for anyone again. They think NYC Transit riders are serfs, should have it much, much worse.

  • bolwerk

    Bus drivers should spend most of their time driving buses, but to the extent that labor utilization is a problem, it doesn’t seem hard to strike a balance that covers the bases: meet your normal demand, have some drivers on reserve for breakdowns and unusually high volume during peak of the peak, as much as possible have drivers generally working equal amounts of time+overtime.* I don’t know if maintaining and storing smaller vehicles is generally a good idea, though maybe already present smaller buses could replace larger ones at night.

    It’s one thing to retrain workers to do another job because you don’t need them for the job they’re doing, and maintenance is sorely needed, but splitting people into two part-time specialties is probably disruptive.

    * people should be generally permitted to refuse overtime, but those who
    already took more than everyone else should be last in line to get more

  • Ken Dodd

    Re: “Tabloid Traffic Violence Victim-Blaming, Explained” – the irony of the Daily News calling the New York Post a “down market tabloid” is off the charts! It’s been how long – a month – since one of their reporters was arrested for causing a drunken ruckus in a hospital while trying to gain access to an injured child?

  • Larry Littlefield

    What you just said was have drivers for two hours of rush hour sit for the other six hours of their shift, which is the situation now. I’d have them do something else too.

  • Guest

    You have to wonder if the drivers could/should perform some routine inspections and light maintenance on the vehicles during non-driving times (which would likely require renegotiating union unit work provisions). I wouldn’t push to have too many extra buses on the road when there are few passengers: we don’t need to pay for extra gas and liability for crashes plus the additional emissions if it’s not actually useful service.

    Also, some of the non-driving period is probably still useful time, used for training and administrative tasks.

  • reasonableexplanation

    ““Ten percent of all crashes in New York are caused by drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, and 75 percent of those drivers still get behind the wheel,” the bill states.”

    I’m interested to see a breakdown of the reasons for license suspensions and revocations:

    Suspended because tickets not paid… that’s between you and the city, not really a safety issue.

    Suspended due to going over the 11 points/reckless driving/etc… now it’s a safety issue.

  • bolwerk

    Oh FFS, that’s so obviously not what I said. It goes against reality anyway: given passenger crowds are already easily forming at 5am and buses and trains are probably being marshaled back well after 10am, there’s no way in hell meeting most rush hour demand doesn’t consume the majority of hosts of 8hr shifts. The evening rush hour is probably more prolonged, but with lower peaks. Those vehicles need to be on their way to meet crowds before they start forming, and need to finish their runs after those crowds clear.

    If most bus drivers are sitting around doing nothing for more than an hour or two a day, they’re either oversubscribed or mismanaged. Probably both.

  • Larry Littlefield

    So I checked. Weekday. On the B61, which runs to my neighborhood, it’s
    5-6: 3
    6-7: 4
    7-8: 7
    8-9: 5
    10-11: 5
    11-12 5

    On the B41, the biggest line in BK, between local and limited, in Midwood inbound:

    5-6: 16
    6-7: 30
    7-8: 16
    8-9: 16
    9-10: 13
    10-11: 11

  • Remember when headlines in that paper were straighforward, such as “FIRE IN MIDTOWN INJURES 5”? Any newspaper whose front-page consists of snark or of expressions of outrage (sometimes actually featuring the very exclamation “OUTRAGE!”) or of silly puns has forfeited the privilege of being taken seriously.

    The only respectable tabloid is Newsday, as evidenced by its simple and declarative front-page headlines.

  • bolwerk

    Only mustering 10-minute headways during rush hour is really something else. But it’s hard to comment on the B61 without understanding the demographics behind the ridership.

  • bolwerk

    It’s both worthy of a snort of derision…and entirely true. The Daily News, trash though it is, is still significantly less vile than the paper of googly eyed right-wing subnormals the Murdoch family likes to target.

  • Ken Dodd

    I don’t find the News significantly less vile at all. I don’t really care about the relative political leanings of the two – they’re both tacky tabloid trash.

  • bolwerk

    The ruthlessness alone of the Post’s smears would seem to make it significantly crasser to me.

  • bolwerk

    Remember “Headless body in topless bar”? They can’t even be arsed to be witty anymore. 😮

  • Larry Littlefield

    I guess the point is there are only 2 extra buses on the road at peak on the B61, or 40 percent more, which serves fewer commuters and more shoppers/visitors.

    But there are nearly twice as many on the B41. That’s 14 extra drivers making perhaps just two runs, in and out. And perhaps not needing all the out.

    So they’re paying people to sit who could be driving additional off peak runs, cleaning, changing the oil and filters.

    But I don’t think you could say “come in for 2 1/2 hours in the morning, go home to Babylon, and come in for 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon and we’ll pay you for five.”

  • Yes, that was the most famous of the obnoxious Post headlines. We can be certain that the attention that that headline received was instrumental in taking this practice mainstream, and that this led to the News‘s decision after the purchase by Maxwell to abandon serious headlines in favour of Post-style garbage.

  • bolwerk

    It’s again hard to comment without knowing how the labor is scheduled. Drivers could be starting or ending shifts, shift starts could be staggered wildly, and people beginning their shift on one route might move to another route for the second half of their day to replace other people ending their workdays.

    I don’t have a problem with expanding roles carefully, but I’d be cautious about it. A good bus driver isn’t necessarily good at even lite maintenance.

  • ddartley

    Good point, but depends on what those unpaid tickets are for. Needless to say, they’re not all parking tickets; some are for dangerous driving (as enforced mostly inadequately by NYPD).

  • ddartley

    “Drivers Licenses Mean Nothing in New York”
    I’ll re-summarize the position I’ve stated over the past couple days: criminal penalties for companies who allow suspended drivers to continue driving for them should be at least somewhat more highly prioritized than criminal penalties for individual drivers. I think it could make for more effective safety policy, in part because it would affect the bad driver population on a more institutional scale.

  • Vooch
  • bolwerk

    Would love to follow the money on that one!

  • Vooch

    ouch !

  • Ken Dodd

    I’m not even sure how culpable a business should be in cases in which an employee had their license suspended after they were hired. How exactly would the employer find out about that? They’re not notified by the DMV of a suspension (obviously), and while they are entitled to request an employee’s driving record, it’s hardly practical to do this every day. So what if an employee continued to drive the day after having their license suspended, and they killed someone? Should the company face legal consequences? It seems unfair. To me, unless the company knowingly hired a driver with a suspended license, the responsibility lies 100% with the driver.

  • Ken Dodd

    Was it also the Post who headlined the passing of Sonny Bono with “Sonny Beats Cher To Death” or did I dream that?

  • qrt145

    We are dreaming up ways of changing the system, so maybe the DMV _should_ notify employers when their drivers have their license suspended. This would in turn require employers to register all their drivers with the DMV.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Dangerous driving tickets (any moving violations really) put points on your license, so it’s a moot point. I don’t really care how much money someone owes the city (from a safety perspective, at least).

  • Ken Dodd

    Yep that is long overdue. I would not be surprised to learn that upwards of 10-20% of garbage truck drivers are unlicensed (or otherwise have driving records which would persuade any responsible company to refuse them employment).