Phone: (216) 228-9400
Department Email: news_td@smart-union.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (May 7, 2024) — The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) announced today that it will be installing protective barriers in all of its buses by the end of the year.

The step taken by LACMTA will make it the first urban bus system with this safety measure fully installed. Consistent with the Federal Transit Administration’s mandated safety plans, the barriers are designed to protect bus operators from potential assault and will be installed two years ahead of a previous schedule.

Jeremy Ferguson, the president of the SMART Transportation Division labor union (SMART-TD), which represents more than 6,000 LACMTA workers, issued the following statement today:

“Thanks to the L.A. County Metro board and CEO Stephanie Wiggins for their commitment to this groundbreaking safety feat and their willingness to collaborate with SMART. Led by Los Angeles Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Division Chairperson, John Ellis and his officers, this accelerated initiative for bus barriers on the entire fleet was strongly advocated for by the union. It represents a huge step forward in addressing SMART’s members safety concerns and demonstrates how much can be accomplished when labor and management work together on issues of mutual concern.

“Hopefully this will be a catalyst for many more such improvements for the safety and well-being of SMART members across the nation.”

On April 25, LACMTA’s board initiated emergency procurement procedures to speed up the barrier installations after attacks on workers made headlines.

“This action will make LACMTA a safer transportation system for the workers I am proud to represent and for the passengers we all are happy to serve,” GC Ellis said. “We thank CEO Wiggins and the LACMTA leadership for putting these protections into high gear.”

As of June 2023, LACMTA has 1,888 buses in service. Its system has 11,980 bus stops and serves a 1,447-square-mile region with 120 routes. The LACMTA provides nearly 1 million rides on its bus and rail system every weekday and an average of 580,000 rides per day on weekends.

In March, the agency provided more than 7.6 million miles of bus and rail passenger service for the country’s most-populous county.

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SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members who work in a variety of different crafts in the transportation industry. These crafts include employees on every Class I railroad, Amtrak, many shortline railroads, bus and mass transit employees and airport personnel.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) Board activated emergency procurement procedures this week to expedite the installation of protective barriers for bus operators.

John Ellis, general chairperson of GO 875, which represents our members who work on LACMTA, issued the following statement April 25:

General Chairperson John Ellis of GO 875, which represents LACMTA workers.

“We have reached a critical milestone! After countless hurdles, on Thursday, April 18, 2024, I viewed the completed prototype enclosure and requested the execution and mass production of the implementation of the driver enclosures. I drove the bus for 35 years and I understand what our members are all up against daily.

“No one can begin to comprehend what an operator faces during these unpredictable times. Rest assured, I will continue to advocate the safety that is owed to our members. I will not stop fighting until all enclosures are on all the buses. Metro, law enforcement and the union as a whole must remain vigilant to this plague affecting our brothers and sisters. Their physical well being and mental stability is of the upmost priority to our members and their families.

“At today’s (April 25) Board of Directors meeting, the board approved and authorized the emergency procurement designation to expedite the completion of the installation of the retrofit barriers on Metro’s fleet by the end of December. I anxiously await the retrofit buses to start making headway for the safety of our transportation heroes — it can’t happen fast enough.

“Furthermore, more new assaults have been reported. When it’s not a valued member, it’s an innocent patron being attacked. The current contracted agencies of law enforcement are not sufficient! We need a dedicated Metro police system for transportation.

“This is a vital and legitimate request I am proposing to Metro. It will create a better safety transportation system, dedicated police taking care of nothing BUT transit! No ifs, ands or buts about it. Everyone’s life matters.

“I’d like to recognize Metro’s CEO Stephanie Wiggins for working collaboratively with me and taking action during these unprecedented times. The union thanks our members for their continuous service.”

Phone: (216) 228-9400
Department email: news_td@smart-union.org

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (April 10, 2024) — President Jeremy Ferguson of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ Transportation Division (SMART-TD) released the following statement in response to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) final rule on a National Public Transportation Safety Plan and the formation of Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASPs).

Read FTA’s release on the final rule on the action plans

“SMART-TD has been calling for federal action to protect our bus and transit members for years. Today, we have been given action, rather than promises and further studies to determine what our men and women know too well. Assault in public transportation is an epidemic that is only getting worse, and they need protection! I applaud DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the FTA, and the Biden administration for having the courage to act to contend with this situation rather than delay.”

“When the notice of proposed rule making for these PTASPs was introduced, this organization wasn’t happy with what we saw. SMART-TD and Bus Department Vice Presidents Alvy Hughes, Calvin Studivant and then-Alternate Vice President James Sandoval rolled up our sleeves and dedicated ourselves to making the voices of our bus and transit members heard. Our union is proud to announce today that they were.”

“The final rule out last night reflected and addressed many concerns we’d expressed in our public comments on this matter and what our National Legislative Department, our Bus Department, and our Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) committee wanted fixed. Most importantly, our men and women will have seats at the table, making decisions on safety measures being taken at their respective workplaces. They will have a level playing field. Employers or managers will not be able to dominate on matters of safety, and if their bosses don’t follow through on the plans our members help form, FTA will step in and enforce them or take away their federal funding!”

Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes commented: “When Calvin (retired SMART-TD Bus Vice President Studivant) and I started working on this, the formation and the fairness of these committees was a major concern of ours. I’m pleased to see this issue has been addressed. Now, we need SMART-TD members to step up into leadership roles on these safety committees. It is up to our members to be willing to get on these committees and go head-to-head with the managers to fight for the protections we all deserve of the job.”

“SMART-TD leadership has done the job of making sure the playing field is level on these property-specific safety committees. Our members need to get involved and take up the fight — to bring their frontline experience to the negotiating table and make sure they advocate for every safety feature and every ounce of security and respect our members earn, day in and day out.”

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If you’re interested in speaking more about FTA’s decision, we’d be happy to connect you with:

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019.

President Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the recent national rail negotiations for the Union with the nation’s rail carriers.

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Sr. Vice President Alvy Hughes

Vice President Hughes, a member of Local 1596 out of Charlotte, N.C., began his career in transportation with the Charlotte Area Transportation System in 1999 and has been a SMART-TD member ever since. Hughes was an Alternate Vice President at SMART-TD from 2014 through 2019, when he was elevated to his current role as Vice President.

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval

VP Sandoval has been a bus operator at the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District for more than a decade. Brother Sandoval has been intensely engaged with labor efforts after joining SMART-TD as a member of Local 23 in Santa Cruz, first as a local officer and then at a national level.

In August 2022, he became alternate vice president of the Bus Department serving the western portion of the nation. On Oct. 1, 2023, he was elevated to the position of Bus Department vice president.

Last week’s hijacking of a Los Angeles County MTA bus reinforces the SMART Transportation Division’s demands that bus and transit carriers from coast-to-coast speed up efforts to protect their workers.

“I would say everything is on the table right now,” SMART-TD Vice President James Sandoval told KTLA while discussing the incident. “We need to try every single thing we can to make it safer.”

Watch the story on KTLA

One of our union brothers was hurt in the March 21 incident, where he was held at gunpoint. The incident also led to at least one bystander being injured and the bus crashing into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel downtown. While he has been treated and released, our member’s experience has put him through physical and mental trauma. adds him to the list of recent victims of senseless violence while using our nation’s transit systems.

SMART-TD is closely monitoring the situation throughout the country and has formed a group to propose practical safety measures. The union will call for the adoption of their recommendations nationwide.

Learn about the BTAPS Committee, which leads union efforts to end assaults on the nation’s bus and transit workers

Read SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson’s reaction to the hijacking

Independence, Ohio (March 25, 2024) — The union representing the transit operator involved in the Los Angeles bus hijacking demands immediate measures to protect their men and women, and the people they transport, from violence. The LACMTA incident, which hospitalized a union member, is the latest in a long series of incidents that expose the urgent need for our nation to rethink and prioritize the safety of public transit employees.

The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) represents bus and transit agencies from coast to coast. Late Wednesday, March 20, a man pulled a weapon on our member. He forced the bus operator to ignore traffic lights and oncoming vehicles. The result of the hijacker’s actions included injuries to the driver of another vehicle and the bus slamming into and damaging the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Thankfully, our member was treated and released from a local hospital, and no one was killed.

 “This is unacceptable. SMART-TD and I, personally, have been told repeatedly that our bus operators’ lives matter. We have been shown plans to form safety committees on bus properties, and directives straight from the Oval Office have demanded the Federal Transit Administration safeguard these men and women,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “Our members are on the ground getting guns in their faces and putting their lives on the line. The time to ‘plan’ has long passed. We know what these professionals need, and that list is publicly available to the FTA and every bus and transit agency CEO and board. Employers must act now to protect their workers.”

In recent weeks, in addition to the Los Angeles incident, violence has been perpetuated on transportation workers serving SEPTA in Philadelphia, the New York City MTA and elsewhere.

FTA has solicited suggestions and opinions from SMART-TD and other labor organizations multiple times to prevent these nightmarish scenarios. SMART-TD has called for:

  • Providing operators with full enclosure in bullet-proof, glare-resistant glass.
  • Armed police or security officers on these buses.
  • Felony-level charges and punishments with a long, nonnegotiable jail sentence to anyone who assaults bus operators or transit workers.
  • Making fare payments and monetary transactions cashless and not incumbent on the bus operator.
  • Giving the bus operator an emergency exit on the left side of the bus.
  • Providing drivers with silent alarms allowing them to alert police of live shooters.

“Our position has always been consistent. We are facing a national epidemic of bus and transit assaults, and the only way we can address it is through immediate action by transportation agencies on these common-sense measures insisted upon by SMART-TD and the Biden/Harris administration,” President Ferguson said. “Our drivers should never have to worry about a physical confrontation over control of their steering wheel, as happened in the Los Angeles incident.

“These requests are non-negotiable, nor are they property-specific. They need to be universal and federally mandated. They need to happen NOW,” Ferguson said.

“As the president of this union, I’m entrusted to protect the well-being of our members. My options are limited. If the workplace this nation’s transit agencies provide is not safe, the one thing I can do is call for a safety standdown on all SMART-TD bus properties. A decision to keep our operators home is not one I take lightly, but neither is calling the mother, father, child, or spouse of one of my members to inform them their loved one was the victim of a violent incident that was preventable with simple safety measures. SMART-TD will not allow our brothers and sisters to work in what we know are unsafe circumstances.”

“If the leaders in the public transportation sector of this nation refuse or prove incapable of protecting our men and women, in the wake of what we saw in Los Angeles, make no mistake. This union will.”

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If you’re interested in speaking more about transit worker safety, and the changes SMART-TD is calling for, we’d be happy to connect you with:

SMART Transportation Division President, Jeremy Ferguson

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019. Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the 2019 national rail negotiations for the union.

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Sr. Vice President, Alvy Hughes

Vice President Hughes, a member of Local 1596 out of Charlotte, N.C., began his career in transportation with the Charlotte Area Transportation System in 1999 and has been a SMART-TD member ever since. Hughes was an Alternate Vice President at SMART-TD from 2014 through 2019, when he was elevated to his current role as Vice President.

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Vice President, James Sandoval

Vice President Sandoval began his career as a bus operator at the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District for more than a decade. He assumed his first officer roles as general chairperson of GCA-SCM, alternate legislative representative, and local chairperson of LCA-SCM in January 2019. In February 2022, he assumed the position of Local 23’s legislative representative. In August 2022, Sandoval became alternate vice president of the Bus Department, serving the western portion of the nation. On Oct. 1, 2023, he was elevated to the position of TD Bus Department vice president.

SMART continues to place the needs of transit workers front and center with a first-of-its-kind exclusive training session. Bus and transit officers shared strategies and learned new techniques at the Transportation Division Albuquerque Regional Training Seminar (RTS) that wrapped up March 7.

Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval (Local 23, Santa Cruz, Calif.) led the class.

“We went over all the basics,” VP Sandoval said. “Empowering our officers to stand up and protect their contracts, defending our members from employer overreach, effective communications, transparency.” All things union officers need to know to help SMART-TD members thrive.

The regional training model was established in 2021 to widen training opportunities across the union. Officers who participate report substantial boosts in members’ win rates on claims against the carriers.

By focusing on bus and transit, SMART-TD is able to emphasize and address the hazards faced by the thousands of our members who work in passenger transport.

Christine Ivey, chair of SMART-TD’s newly formed Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee said the focus on how the union functions will be essential going forward. Ivey also serves as vice local chairperson of Local 1785.

[More about BTAPS]

“It was insightful and really showed how all the units work together in the organization – how we work together but at times have our own separate individual concerns on our properties,” Ivey said. “I enjoyed it immensely.”

“People are super happy with what they learned,” VP Sandoval said. “As long as we have enough participants, this will continue at other RTS and the National Training Seminar. It’s a great foundation for local officers.”

Bus Department Alt. Vice President Markeisha Haynes and General Chairperson Justin Schrock also presented in Albuquerque.

SMART-TD represents numerous bus and transit properties in Los Angeles, other locations across California, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Chicago, among others. The next National Training Seminar will be held in the union’s home base of Cleveland, Ohio, July 9-11, 2024.

Members may register or learn more about the event on the RTS Information Page.

Independence, Ohio — The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART-TD) has announced the members who will participate in the Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee.

This committee, which was voted on at the SMART Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, is known as the Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee. BTAPS is being chaired by Christine Ivey who is a bus member of SMART-TD Local 1785 and works as a bus operator for the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines.

In addition to Sister Ivey, the eight members of the BTAPS Committee will be the following:

Bus members

  • Russ Gaillard, Local 1582 Adirondack Transit Lines, Albany, New York
  • Sandra Pineda, Local 1563 LACMTA, El Monte, California
  • Bruce Cheatham, Local 1594 SEPTA, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
  • Pedro (Pete) Lara Jr., Local 1563 LACMTA, El Monte, California

Transit/commuter members

  • Cole Czub, Local 898 KEOLIS, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Scott Carey, Local 95 Amtrak, Rensselaer, New York
  • Ernest Higgerson, Local 1525 Amtrak, Carbondale, Illinois
  • Joseph Williams, Local 800 New Jersey Transit, Newark, New Jersey

The committee is composed of 4 bus members, and 4 representatives of our transit and commuter rail membership. This committee will be lobbying both at the state level and in Washington D.C. to promote bills that ensure the best demonstrated practices for transit worker safety and bring down the alarming rate of assaults on our brothers and sisters. Our BTAPS members will also be working with carriers, the FTA and other federal agencies to promote the best practices to make our members safer on the job.

“I want to thank all our bus and transit members who volunteered to serve on this important committee. After careful consideration, we have chosen eight members that represent a geographically diverse cross section of our bus, transit, and commuter service workforce,” SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson said. “We are lucky to have many talented people in our union and we look forward to the progress this BTAPS Committee will make. Under Christine Ivey’s leadership, I am sure they will make an immediate impact on the safety of our bus and transit rail members.”

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If you’re interested in speaking more about transit worker safety, and the changes SMART-TD is calling for, we’d be happy to connect you with:

SMART TRANSPORTATION DIVISION PRESIDENT JEREMY FERGUSON

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019.

President Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the recent national rail negotiations for the union with the nation’s rail carriers.

SMART TRANSPORTATION BTAPS COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON CHRISTINE IVEY

Christine Ivey, a member of Local 1785 in Santa Monica, California, was appointed as the chairperson of the BTAPS committee in the summer of 2023 and has been pivotal in the committee’s founding. Sister Ivey has been a bus operator for 30 years and has been working for the City of Santa Monica’s Municipal Bus Lines (Big Blue Bus) since 2014.

SMART TRANSPORTATION DIVISION BUS DEPARTMENT SR. VICE PRESIDENT ALVY HUGHES

Vice President Hughes, a member of Local 1596 out of Charlotte, N.C., began his career in transportation with the Charlotte Area Transportation System in 1999 and has been a SMART-TD member ever since. Hughes was an alternate vice president at SMART-TD from 2014 through 2019 when he was elected to his current role as vice president.

The calendar year 2024 drug and alcohol random testing rates for specific recipients of Federal Transit Administration financial assistance were published in the Federal Register on Nov. 30, 2023. The minimum random drug testing rate will remain at 50 percent, and the random alcohol testing rate will remain at 10 percent.

Read the FTA announcement

Brother Richard Gulley, president of Local 1590 (Anaheim, Calif.) passed away on June 29, 2023.

Brother Richard Gulley, president of Local 1590 in Anaheim, Calif., passed away June 29.

“Brother Gulley was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend,” said Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes. “As local president, Brother Gulley was instrumental in assembling one of our newest bus locals that represents operators and maintenance employees. 

Hughes said Brother Gulley was well-respected by the members of his local and had a way of putting a smile on everyone’s face. 

“He will be greatly missed,” Hughes said.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to all in Local 1590 who worked in solidarity with Brother Gulley, as well as his family and his friends in this difficult time. 

June 26, 2023, was the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) deadline for the public to respond to their Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) on forming new Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASPs.)

FTA requested public comments on how to keep bus operators safe on the job, and as a union SMART Transportation Division answered the bell.

The National Legislative Department would like to thank all of our bus members for their time, efforts, and the quality of the ideas shared while we were putting together our response. SMART-TD reached out to you, and you answered. We truly are an organization that can only be as strong as our members and your assistance was highly appreciated.

As a result of the feedback we received from multiple bus members, Bus Vice Presidents Calvin Studivant and Alvy Hughes, as well as Anthony Petty, representing our members from SEPTA in Philadelphia, Pa., SMART-TD’s team submitted a strong response.

Unlike many responses they received, ours was fueled by information and creativity that came straight from the front lines.

Thank you all for your efforts to keep yourself as well as your union brothers and sisters safe at work and both represented as well as respected in the PTASP development process.

Read the submission to FTA (PDF)