On April 3 the Star Tribune reported that a Metro Transit bus driver was assaulted by several teenagers in a noontime attack at the Southdale stop in Edina, Minn. According to authorities, the driver sustained potentially ‘life altering’ head injuries. Read the entire story here.

bus; CATS; CATS busWith public transportation usage growing around the nation, many agencies are looking at ways to attract millennials, who are looking for more options and driving less and less, according to respondents of METRO’s Top 100 Bus Fleets survey.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) New York City Transit/MTA Bus Co. tops this year’s list with 5,759 total vehicles. Showing some movement this year, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2,378), New Jersey Transit (2,233), Seattle’s King County Metro Transit (1,882) and the Toronto Transit Commission (1,869) round out this year’s top five, which collectively totals 14,121 vehicles, or 21 percent of this year’s overall 66,056 total vehicles — down slightly compared to 2014, although last year’s list ranked the Top 110 bus fleets.

Click here to read the full results of the survey.

Read more from Metro Magazine.

Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan has determined that the random drug-testing rate will remain at 25 percent for 2015 and the random alcohol-testing rate for 2015 will remain at 10 percent for transit employees performing safety-sensitive functions, according to the Federal Register.
The determination was made due to a “positive rate” lower than one percent for random drug test data for the past two years. The random alcohol violation rate was lower than 0.5 percent for the last two years.
The random drug rates for the two preceding years are 0.74 percent for 2013 and 0.87 percent for 2014. The random alcohol rates for the two preceding years are 0.12 percent for 2013 and 0.14 percent for 2014.
On Jan. 1, 1995, FTA required large transit employers to begin drug and alcohol testing employees performing safety-sensitive functions and submit annual reports by March 15 of each year beginning in 1996. The annual report includes the number of employees who had a verified positive for the use of prohibited drugs, and the number of employees who tested positive for the misuse of alcohol during the reported year.
The original rules required employers to conduct random drug tests at a rate equivalent to at least 50 percent of their total number of safety-sensitive employees for prohibited drug use and at least 25 percent for the misuse of alcohol.
However, the rules provided the drug random testing rate may be lowered to 25 percent if the ‘‘positive rate’’ for the entire transit industry is less than one percent for two preceding consecutive years. The alcohol provisions provided the random rate may be lowered to 10 percent if the ‘‘violation rate’’ for the entire transit industry was less than 0.5 percent for two consecutive years.
Click here to review the Federal Register notice.
The U.S. Department of Transportation provides answers to employees’ Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.dot.gov/odapc/employee.


By Adhi Reddy, 
Transportation Division Vice President – Bus – 

The year 2015 is a special one for our organization because we left our First SMART Convention as a united membership. Together, with one voice, we are a stronger body throughout the nation.

All of our newly elected representatives from the 2014 conventions have now taken office and I congratulate each of them on their elections. I also ask each of them to always do what is best for the membership. Most of our local elections, and some of our general committee of adjustment elections, have been completed. To the officers that have been elected or re-elected, congratulations.

As officers, we must always remember to do what is the best for our membership. Not only are we officers, but we are the membership as well. So, we must always think like a member first, then as an officer. Our decisions should be in the best interest of all. Also, don’t be afraid to ask others for advice if you are struggling with a decision.

We, your vice presidents, are only a request away from visiting your property. Your general chairperson or your local president may send a request to our Transportation Division president so that we can assist you in a variety of issues, including preparing contract proposals, negotiations, arbitrations and grievances. Remember, your Transportation Division officers are here to help.

We are currently working on guidelines to reduce dues for members in locals where earnings are reduced and hours may not be 40 per week. I will keep you updated about this effort.

On the local level, many of us may not pay much attention to our Legislative Department, which plays a major role in lawmaking efforts. I ask you to pay attention to their efforts and support them, on the state level and the national level, up to the White House. Please see your treasurer to enroll in UTU PAC, an investment in our future.

In many workplaces, discipline policies are getting tougher and tougher to follow, with new managers straight out of college, that never worked the jobs many of us do. If you are experiencing this issue, please talk to your local chairperson as soon as possible.

Happy New Year and God bless.

SEPTA_logo_150pxMembers of the SMART Transportation Division employed by Southeastern Pennsylvania Metropolitan Transportation Authority ratified Jan. 11 a 2.5-year agreement with the carrier.

The contract, which is retroactive to April 1, 2014, and extends until Nov. 18, 2016, covers bus operators, trolley operators and conductors and operators on the Norristown High Speed Line. They are members of Transportation Division Local 1594 at Upper Darby, Pa.

The deal affects more than 350 members and was ratified by 61 percent of eligible voters who participated in the balloting process, said Transportation Division Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant, who assisted with the negotiations.

Wage adjustments include a two-percent increase following ratification of the agreement and a three-percent increase effective Jan. 10, 2016.

A side letter to the agreement also calls for the authority to establish a “work zone committee” to address work safety issues as they pertain to the transportation department.

Studivant congratulates General Chairperson and Local President Waverly Harris, former Vice Local Chairperson Brian Caldwell, and Vice Local Chairpersons Curtis Fulmore, Dave Stinsman, Eric Goodwin and Anthony Petty for their arduous efforts in obtaining this agreement.

“A lot of hours were dedicated to finalizing this collective bargaining agreement. I commend the local officers for their diligence and preparation and the membership that participated in the ratification vote,” Studivant said.

PENWELL, Texas – At least 10 people were killed Wednesday when a bus carrying state prisoners skidded off an icy highway overpass in West Texas, slid down an embankment and collided with a passing train, a county sheriff said.

The overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the roadway just west of Odessa, according to Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.

Read the complete story at the Associated Press.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that the annual minimum random controlled substances testing rates for employees in safety sensitive positions, including tractor-trailer and bus drivers, will remain at 50 percent through 2015.  The agency’s decision to maintain the current testing rate was based on data from motor carrier industry controlled substance lab test results, the 2012 drug and alcohol testing survey, and additional investigations, which showed that:

  • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012;
  • Reasonable suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6 percent in 2010, to 15.7 percent in 2011 and 37.2 percent in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the 3-year period;
  • The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012.  FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80 percent of the reported tests;
  • Serious controlled substance and alcohol testing violations were identified in 24 percent of recent compliance investigations; and 
  • A two-week 2014 Strike Force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle.  These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials.

While results for FMCSA’s 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey of approximately 2,000 carriers indicate that positive random drug testing results have decreased for a second year, the agency is committed to seeking additional information related to driver test rates and will continue to monitor industry testing programs before re-evaluating the controlled substances random test rate for 2016. 


Operators employed in the transit industry continue to experience difficult times in relation to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Several types of sleep apnea exist, but the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. The most noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Transit Administration have identified fatigue and undiagnosed sleep apnea as high-risk vulnerabilities for transit operators, and as an element of probable cause for numerous transit accidents.

In 2013, Congress enacted a law prohibiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from implementing or enforcing requirements relating to sleep disorders unless adopted by a rule-making proceeding. However, it did not apply to any requirement in force before Sept. 1, 2013, at which time there were guidelines for screening and testing.

Many questions remain unanswered because it seems carrier medical review officers (MRO) are making determinations on employees based on their beliefs, as opposed to actual physical examinations. The only way a respiratory problem can be detected is through a sleep study and an MRO should request a sleep study if he or she believes there is a problem.

There is also the issue of the costs of medical examinations and who is responsible for payment. Physical examinations required by carriers based on Department of Transportation regulations should be paid for by the carrier. Also, a sleep study is no excuse for an operator to be put out of service.

We must seek a resolution to this problem and stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure our members are not being put out of service and to ensure that the carriers assume the cost of any sleep studies performed.

After a sleep study is completed and the diagnosis is indeed sleep apnea, there are treatment options, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, dental devices and surgical options.

As more information becomes available concerning this disorder and DOT guidelines, we will make sure that all of our members are well informed.



To each and every delegate of the SMART Transportation Division, I would like to thank you for electing me to the position of vice president of SMART’s bus department.

My request to all SMART members is to please work with all of your newly elected officers at all levels of the organization. Keep all of your officers informed regarding the issues you face on a daily basis so they can bring your issues to the table and together, we can get the best deals for our membership.

As a local officer, I was not only a member of this organization, but I also worked for the membership. I was, and remain, a middleman between our individual members and our entire SMART organization. I am here to serve.

We have a very powerful organization in SMART, with more than 130,000 active and retired Transportation Division members. We must continue to work together with our brothers and sisters – for our brothers and sisters – to keep our union strong. We – your officers – are ready to work for you if only you allow us to do so.

Knowledge is power. I ask each of you to try to attend all of your local meetings to stay informed and to educate yourself about your agreements and your fellow members. There are a lot of federal and state rules and regulations in the transportation industry, along with workplace policies. Change is happening all the time, so try your best to keep up with changes that affect you. It is easier to follow the rules by knowing them in advance than learning about them after you have been disciplined.

In our business, time limits are very important. If you feel your contract has been violated, contact your local officers immediately, or leave a note in the union mailbox. I have seen, too many times, members waiting too long to notify their local officers of violations and losing cases because they were not filed in a timely manner.

My telephone number is (216) 287-9324 and my email address is areddy@smart-union.org. I am here to assist you.

The holidays will be here before we know it, so I wish all of you and your families a very happy holiday season. Be “SMART” and be union! I hope to see all of you soon.


bus2WASHINGTON – On Nov. 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will kick-off the 2015 “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” student art contest organized by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership. Open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade with relatives or sponsors in the commercial truck and bus industries, the contest educates kids about highway safety and urges commercial drivers to buckle up on every trip.

“Buckling your safety belt should be an automatic practice for every driver and passenger since it’s the simplest and most effective way to save your life in the event of a crash,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The purpose of this art contest is to engage children and their parents in discussing safety and to provide a calendar of kids’ artwork that serves as a year-round reminder to always buckle-up.”

In just the last three years, safety belt use has continued to rise among medium-to-heavy truck and bus drivers to an all-time high of 84 percent, according to a 2013 FMCSA study. While good news, there is room for improvement. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent data from 2012 showed that 697 occupants of large trucks were killed in crashes; approximately 40 percent were not wearing safety belts.

“The good news is that overall safety belt use for professional bus and truck drivers has steadily increased each year and as a direct result, more lives are being saved,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We are focused on reminding every driver that there is never an excuse to skip the important step of buckling up.”

FMCSA will accept contest submissions through Feb. 28, 2015. Students can submit their artwork by mail to the following address:

CMV Safety Belt Partnership
c/o CVSA
Attention: Nicole Leandro
6303 Ivy Lane, Suite 310
Greenbelt, MD 20770

Artwork will be evaluated in two categories: one for kindergarten through second grade, and another for third through sixth grade.

Twelve winners will be selected in April 2015, and their artwork will appear in the 2016 “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” contest calendar.

All 12 students will also be honored at a ceremony at USDOT headquarters to be held in the spring. To see last year’s winners and learn more about the “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” contest, visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/safety-belt/index.htm.