Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Do you feel safe riding the bus or light rail in Sacramento?

If you feel unsafe, imagine how I feel. Knowing that I am responsible for the safety and well being of every passenger aboard my bus or train, I also am often just as afraid as most passengers are of what lurks in the public transit environment...but hey thats what I signed up for, right?

In the article below, you will gather an idea of how something left unabated becomes a very dangerous situation for all of those involved. I'm not comparing Sacramento RT to Detroit Public Transportation, but like I said things get out of hand fast.

This article from the Detroit Free Press
paints the picture of what happens when things get out of hand.

"The return of 850 City of Detroit bus drivers after Wednesday's walkout is contingent on an understanding that the Detroit City Council will vote today on a $12-million federal grant to allow Wayne County sheriff's deputies to patrol city buses.

But a council vote is not certain.

"It's a strong possibility, but I would definitely stop short of saying it's a guarantee," said Council President Kenneth Cockrel Jr.

Detroit Public Schools officials said they will run school buses on 33 bus lines for those students who normally ride Detroit Department of Transportation buses, should the walkout continue today.

The drivers, saying they were frustrated that the city had not policed the buses for almost two years, walked off the job at 3 a.m. Wednesday, they say, to send a message to the council, which two weeks ago voted down the grant.

"We're going back to work, but somebody's got to wake up," said Desi Smith, a driver for 19 years. "We were alerting the city before it's too late.

"If they don't decide, we're not driving," said Smith, who two months ago had a gun pulled on her by a motorist in a road rage incident.

One day without the buses was enough for riders who spent the day walking, trying unsuccessfully to flag down SMART buses, calling friends and relatives for rides or piling into taxis. Officials with SMART, the bus system that runs primarily in the suburbs, said they don't offer local service along the routes they run in Detroit.

Eric Young, 18, stood at a bus stop at Gratiot near State Fair, oblivious to the fact that no public transportation was coming to pick him up. The east-side resident said he caught a snippet on television about the work stoppage before leaving home but was rushing and didn't hear the details.

He catches a DDOT bus and transfers to a SMART bus daily to attend an adult education school in Clinton Township. By 9:30 a.m., he conceded that he wasn't going to make it to class Wednesday.

"I'm pretty sure they had a right to protest, especially if it's for their safety," Young said.

"I'm not angry; I just wish I would have known about it."

Drivers complain that the council has been debating the issue with little progress for five months and in the meantime, they say their colleagues are getting relentlessly attacked. They said two drivers were beaten on their routes in the last two days.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration spent the day scrambling to get the drivers back on the buses and convince enough council members to vote for the contract.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, who is in charge of city business while the mayor continues a vacation with his wife, announced a deal early in the day that would have had drivers return to work in exchange for a temporary 24-hour patrol on the buses by the sheriff's deputies.

But when the Office of Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans issued a statement saying it wouldn't send deputies without the council's approval, the administration had to keep negotiating.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President Henry Gaffney said his members would return to work today.

"Our intent is never to hurt the public," Gaffney said. "But at what point is enough, enough?"

Councilwoman Monica Conyers is expected to be the swing vote. She voted against the contract the first time, even though she publicly maintained she supported it.

On Wednesday, she again reiterated her support, though she said she would not be intimidated by the union's actions."

No comments: