Bus operators of SMART Local 1715 in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with a vote margin of 20 to 1.

The new contract for the operators for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) calls for a significant wage increase, double-time for holidays and the additional holiday of Juneteenth. It also provides for night differential pay and an increase in the pension cap. There are also changes to the bidding of work process that favor operators who may be unable to bid when the process starts. All wage increases are retroactive to July 1, 2022.

“I would like to thank the negotiations committee consisting of General Chairperson Joseph Paglia, Vice General Chairperson and Local President Christy Kiser, Local Chairperson Stanley Valentine, Secretary & Treasurer Chris Johnson and Local Committee of Adjustment Secretary Sabrina White for their hard work and tireless effort to deliver a package that the members would accept,” SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant said. “The negotiations took more than nine months to complete, but the committee stayed focused on the task at hand and they delivered.”

A member of Local 1715 (Charlotte, N.C.) lost his life over the weekend in a senseless act of gun violence after he was shot Friday while operating his bus in Charlotte, N.C.


Ethan Rivera, 41, a member of our union since May 2021, died Saturday while being treated at a Charlotte hospital. Police continue to investigate the homicide, which happened on West Trade Street near South Graham Street around 9:35 p.m., according to media reports.

Rivera had four passengers aboard his Charlotte Area Transit System bus when shots came from an SUV, police said. Rivera was hit by the gunfire, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment. No injuries to passengers were mentioned in media reports about the incident, and police continue to investigate the crime.

“Ethan was a native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn. When he came to work for Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), co-workers bonded immediately to his good spirit,” said General Chairperson Joseph Paglia (GCA-TMD). “Ethan was well-liked and respected and you could not find anyone to say a negative word about him.

“He was a fun-loving man who always had a smile on his face. Ethan Rivera will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Rest in peace our friend and brother.”

Paglia said that Brother Rivera is survived by two children who were his life and that he strived to be the best father he could be. An online fundraiser has been established to benefit Brother Rivera’s family.

“This is an absolutely heartbreaking situation that we are struggling to understand,” Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes said. “No one should have to deal with violence while trying to make a living doing their job. My heart and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time, and we mourn with all who knew Brother Rivera.

“He will be missed, and we hope and pray that police are able to quickly bring the perpetrators of this absolutely inexplicable crime to justice to bring solace to both his family and to his union brothers and sisters.”

SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to Brother Rivera’s family, his friends, Local 1715 and all who knew him.

This article will be updated as additional information is received.

A SMART TD member who drives for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) was shot multiple times on Monday afternoon at the Charlotte Transportation Center uptown and was hospitalized, according to WSOC-TV Channel 9 in Charlotte, N.C.
Police told WSOC that the suspect in the Charlotte shooting, T.B. Moss, has a criminal record and was taken into custody soon after the incident by authorities. Police said Moss may have specifically targeted the bus driver. She is expected to recover, according to media reports, but this incident again highlights the need for the implementation of increased safety measures for bus and transit operators as provided by the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R. 1139 and S. 436) so that our members can come home safely after a day’s work.
Please visit the TD Legislative Action Center to tell your elected officials to support this legislation to protect our union brothers and sisters, or better yet, contact them via phone or face-to-face.

bus; CATS; CATS busMembers of SMART Transportation Division Local 1715 in Charlotte, N.C., overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract, Friday, Sept. 9, reports Vice President Calvin Studivant.
“I would like to thank General Chairperson (GCA TMD) Hasson Trent, Vice General Chairperson Brenda Moore, LCA TMD Secretary Ruby Crosby and Local President Bruce Wright for the long hours and hard work that they each put in to reaching this agreement,” Studivant said.
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operators will enjoy more favorable work rules, paid travel time to the Tryon and Davidson garages and lower healthcare insurance deductibles. The contract also includes an increased pension cap and 7.5 percent in general wage increases with retroactive pay.

Managed by the Public Transit Department of the city of Charlotte, CATS is the largest transit system between Atlanta and Washington, with over 70 local, express and regional bus routes. The company also manages a light rail system, services for the disabled and vanpools.

Charlotte_CATS_logoWashington – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a $180 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension. The TIFIA loan will support the expansion of the popular light rail system from Center City Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte Campus.

“This project is already catalyzing economic growth and opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNCC campus and giving commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on I-85 and U.S. 29.  The project also connects and will help revitalize many historically underserved neighborhoods,” said Secretary Foxx.  “The Blue Line extension is an important piece of the overall transit system that Charlotte needs in order to thrive in the 21st Century.”

CATS officials estimate that the light rail extension will create approximately 7,600 jobs during construction with total light rail ridership at more than 18,900 additional riders each weekday when the extension opens in 2018. The 9.3 mile extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile light rail corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US Route 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.

“The LYNX Blue Line extension is critical to the City of Charlotte. The TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure that CATS can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Lana Hurdle, DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.

In addition to the $180 million TIFIA loan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $580 million for the $1.16 billion project through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.

“For residents and visitors alike, Charlotte’s transportation system provides a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Charlotte has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CATS, the City of Charlotte, and the State of North Carolina  continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”

The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 54 projects turn more than $22 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $81 billion in infrastructure investment across America.

As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at www.transportation.gov/tifia

The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which is estimated to result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion.

Charlotte_CATS_logoWith over 75 percent of the voting membership agreeing, Local 1596 maintenance workers of Charlotte Area Transit System based out of Charlotte, N.C., ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The new agreement is for three years starting retroactively to June 30, 2015 and going through June 30, 2018.

Leading the way, GCA TMM (Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc.) General Chairperson Craig Patch helped negotiations, asking for contractual language changes, improvements to the pension plan and wage increases. Patch, Local Chairperson Billy Belcher, Vice Chairperson Gary Moore and Secretary Michael Jenkins worked tirelessly on the agreement.

“Brother Patch and I would like to thank Local President James Hinton, Local Vice President Gerald Hudson and S&T Tony Sandle for their hard work on getting this accomplished,” Alternate Vice President Bus-East Alvy Hughes said. 

Charlotte_CATS_logoSMART Transportation Division Local 1715 and Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc., agreed to a contract extension Oct. 14 that will expire Nov. 11, 2013, at midnight, according to Local Chairperson Kevin Moss.

Local 1715 represents bus operators for the Charlotte Area Transit System.

A previous contract extension was set to expire at midnight Oct. 15, the same day the union and CATS management had scheduled a contract negotiations meeting. However, that meeting was canceled because a federal mediator who was scheduled to participate in the meeting was unable to attend due to the federal government shutdown.

The company and the union agreed to have the mediator present at the meeting as this round of negotiations have reached an impasse, Moss said.

“Due to the government shutdown, the union and the company will enter a new extension. A contract extension is necessary for the union and the company until we are able to reschedule our next round of negotiations with a mediator. I am very hopeful that the federal government will resolve the issues that have led to this shutdown. We thank all of the members of Local 1715 for their patience,” Moss said.