In December, SMART-TD announced the members who will serve on the Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee. This committee, which was voted on at the 2023 SMART Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, is being chaired by Christine Ivey, a member of SMART-TD Local 1785 who works as a bus operator for the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines.

In addition to Sister Ivey, the 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
  • Ernest Higgerson, Local 1525, Amtrak, Carbondale, Illinois
  • Joseph Williams, Local 800, New Jersey Transit, Newark, New Jersey

This committee will be focusing its efforts on lobbying at the state level and in Washington, DC, 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. BTAPS members will also be working with carriers, the Federal Transit Administration and other federal agencies to promote 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 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.”

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

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (Dec. 27, 2023) – The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, and Rail Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART-TD) has been calling for years for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to address the epidemic of violent assaults facing our bus and transit members in their workplaces.

As an organization, this union has been out in front of this issue, raising awareness of the problem with transit carriers, legislators and by directly reaching out to FTA with a laundry list of proposed solutions to the problem. Internally, the union has established the Bus/Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee aimed at focusing the strength of our union on this life-and-death issue.

Just recently, news programs on NBC and MSNBC showed the grim reality of the violence bus and transit workers have faced on the job and the need to gain better protections for these essential transportation workers.

SMART-TD, BTAPS and our men and women on the front line have gained an impressive ally in this struggle. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called for FTA to implement Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASP) in all large urban areas developed by on-property committees. The groups, comprised of equal members of workers and representatives of management, will be charged with conducting system-specific safety risk assessments.

After the assessments are completed, appropriate mitigation measures and strategies will be identified to address the problems identified in their assessments. A general directive from the Biden-Harris administration calls for the assessments, mitigations and the monitoring of their effect to be overseen directly by FTA.

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson was excited to hear the news of Biden’s personal involvement in putting an end to the rise of violence against our members.

“This union’s leaders on the bus and transit side of TD have been discussing this issue and proposing solutions. We have had strong legislation at the state level from several of our State Legislative Directors Ron Sabol in New Jersey, Bob Guy in Illinois, Don Roach in Michigan, and Louis Costa in California among others. Some of our General Committee Chairman have been leading the charge on this issue as well. Jerome Johnson on New Jersey Transit, Anthony Simon from the Long Island Railroad and Anthony Petty from SEPTA in Philadelphia jump to mind, among many other strong GC’s who have been with us in this fight.” Ferguson said. “This administration has given proof positive with this directive that we are being heard and that we have not only a friend but a strategic partner in the White House. The directive echoes some of the most important points this organization made to the FTA earlier this year. The door is open for SMART to work hand in hand with the FTA and all other facets of the federal government to protect our members better than we ever could have before.”

“This strong mandate will amplify the efforts of our new BTAPS Committee led by Chairperson Christine Ivey, and the administration’s leadership will allow our ideas on changes to equipment and policy to take root throughout the country. This is a great sign for our union and for working men and women throughout the transportation industry that the need for improvement in protecting bus and transit workers from violence cannot be ignored.”


If you would like more information on the administration’s general directive, and SMART-TD’s plans to maximize the leverage it gives our efforts, we would be happy to put you in touch 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 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 (CATS) 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.

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 SMART Transportation Division has formed a new committee to address the growing problem of assaults on bus and transit operators. The Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety committee (BTAPS), was founded at the recent SMART Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

The idea for the committee was raised by Christine Ivey, a legislative representative from Local 1785 out of Santa Monica, Calif. Ivey spoke during a TD breakout session about the need for a union-led effort to address the issue of assaults on bus and transit operators.

Legislative Representative Christine Ivey of Local 1785 (Santa Monica, Calif.) addresses TD leadership Aug. 2 at the SMART Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

“The gate is already open. The bull is coming out. We’ve already had drivers stabbed. We’ve had drivers shot. We’re still having drivers that are being assaulted and we’re still dragging our feet on creating laws that protect the drivers,” Ivey said from the floor of the leadership meeting. “My question is, ‘How do I get on a team that will propose a bill that will change the status quo?’ ”

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson was impressed by Ivey’s presentation and called her up to the podium to address the entire crowd from the stage. When Ivey finished making her points about the need for SMART to consider developing a committee to address these concerns, Ferguson stepped to the mic and surprised everyone in the room, including Sister Ivey, with what came next.

President Ferguson called for a point of order and all eyes locked on him. He then said that in his opinion, what Sister Ivey had just said to the leadership of SMART-TD constituted a motion on the floor. Ferguson then called for a second on the motion to officially form the committee and immediately called for a voice vote. The motion passed unanimously, and with a spontaneous standing ovation, the Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety Committee was founded.

Ferguson named Ivey chairperson of the committee with no objections. Ivey is a highly experienced union leader and advocate for bus and transit operators. She is well-respected by her peers and is known for her passion for safety.

The BTAPS committee will be tasked with developing and implementing strategies to reduce the number of assaults on bus and transit operators. The committee will also work to raise awareness of the issue and advocate for policies that will make bus and transit operators safer, including lobbying in Congress and state legislatures to urge that punishments for the crime of assault on a transit worker be heightened from a misdemeanor to a felony.

“This is a historic moment for the SMART-TD union,” said Ferguson. “We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our members from violence. The Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety committee will be a powerful tool in our fight for safety. Christine Ivey is driven, intelligent, and determined to make this committee successful. I have full confidence that SMART will be proud of what this committee will achieve through Sister Ivey’s leadership.”

The committee will meet regularly and report its findings to the SMART-TD Board of Directors. The committee will also advocate for safety measures at the federal and state levels through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Ivey and Ferguson seek nominations for bus and transit members to serve on the committee. If you are willing to serve and would like to be considered for an appointment, please contact Chairperson Ivey at Chrissie.ivey.smtd.1785@gmail.com or Dan Banks in SMART-TD’s Cleveland office at (216) 227-5450 or by email at dbanks@smart-union.org.

The formation of the committee is a major step in the fight to protect bus and transit operators. The committee is well-positioned to make a real difference in the lives of SMART-TD members and make bus and transit a safer place for our members to work and passengers to ride alike.