Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is a Driver Protest Brewing?

UPDATE: This is apparently not a rogue driver, as the following is on the ATU 689 Web site:

Local 689 Members:

Now is the time for us to protect ourselves and our jobs!

Perform all duties strictly by the S.O.P.'s (Standard Operating Procedures)

Don't Give Metro any reason to write us up, suspend us, or fire us anymore!

"We Make It Work"

ATU Local 689, Jackie Lynn Jeter, President

/end update

Is this a case of a driver going rogue, or is he part of a larger movement? Have you noticed anything different?

From reader Carlos:

I was riding the 52 bus up 14th Street last night around S St. when the driver made the following announcement (not verbatim):

Passengers please listen up. If you're riding the bus tomorrow morning and for the rest of the week, you're gonna need to allow an extra 30 minutes or so. It's not like we're goin' on strike or anything, but for the rest of the week, we're gonna be doing everything by the book. By the BOOK.

That means if we're s'posed to go 25 miles per hour, that's exactly what we're going to do. And it's gonna make us run late, so y'all need to allow for more time.

We're just tryin' to reduce the number of casualties, and so we're gonna be safe and by the book for the rest of the week.

Also we're gonna try to cut down on the conversatin' with passengers and just try to be more safe, but it's gonna make us run slow. So allow an extra 30 minutes.

This announcement raised a few questions in my head:

1. The phrase "It's not like we're going on strike." made me wonder if this is some sort of protest by the transit union? It was just a weird phrase to insert. Is the transit union trying to cause some stress in the system to effectuate some kind of change about something?

2. Why did they decide to start "being safe" now, and why are the only going to be safe for this week? What happens next week?

3. Is "conversatin' " a word?

Other items:
Man accused of threatening to blow up Metro trains (Examiner)

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Anonymous said...

3. It's called ebonics. Otherwise known as an inability to use the English language correctly.

aaronhelton said...

Awesome :/ Because of their apparent slowdown, I ended up at the office LATER than normal despite having taken an EARLIER train in.

Is there any other word on this?

Anonymous said...

Well, if doing things "by the book" does delay things such as bus service by 30 minutes I think it would be an effective demonstration. If obeying traffic laws leads to massive system-wide delays then it highlights just how stressed the bus service is. If driving the speed limit and not trying to beat a red light shows that Metro needs more buses, then so be it.

However if this is a way to give customers the finger for complaining about recent incidents the drivers are just being jerks.

Malnurtured Snay said...

We do it at my p/t work every now and then, when management starts getting fussy about the small mistakes that crop up when you try to hit the numbers they want you to hit, while expecting you to do a very thorough job -- unfortunately, you generally can't do both at the same time.

Like, say I've got ten people in line trying to buy books. 30 seconds, easy, if they've got everything ready, and if I don't do all the stuff management wants me to do.

But! If I ask them if they found everything they were looking for, and I try to upsell them something else, and do they have a Rewards card, or sign them up for a Rewards card, would they like me to gift wrap this item for them? That's by the book, and it could take a transaction that could've been done in 30 seconds up to 5 minutes to finish.

But, hey, if that's what management wants ...

Nevermindtheend said...

Doing things "by the book" is a fairly common union tactic. It is virtually guaranteed to slow things down, but management can't say anything because workers are simply following the rules.

Anonymous said...

probably a bad time to be seeking any sort of sympathy.

Anonymous said...

All I know is I saw a Orange Line train going through Chinatown apparently towards New Carroltown seemed odd to me especially since the operator said it was the Yellow Line to Mt. Vernon

Anonymous said...

I was on a #70 bus this morning and we were treated to a shouting match between the driver and a passenger who needed to be at
Silver Spring at 7:00 exactly; the driver was trying to explain that if the schedule says he isn't supposed to pull in until 7:01 than he needs to pull in at 7:01 and that if she needs to be there earlier than she needs to take an earlier bus. I still don't know whether I should have laughed or rolled my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Well hopefully if this causes any delays in service it will underline whether they need things like bus routes with no left turns and bus priority traffic signals. Those 2 measures should speed things up. Maybe making stops 4 blocks apart or 1/4 mile, whichever is greater, and reducing left turns in routes would be a good first step while they change the traffic signals to give busses a green light.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off-topic, but I've been awaiting reply to this from another post...

Can anyone explain why Metro is allowed [legally?] to charge patrons who enter a station and then leave the same station?

On more than one occasion, and recently because of red lines delays or failures, I've left the same station after realizing the train will take 45 minutes longer to arrive than it should. Simply having entered and exited, I am charged, yet I have not received any service more than standing in a public place.


Anonymous said...

Check out the Washington Post's story on this. They swallow the union crap hook line and sinker. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/13/AR2009101302122.html

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this being charged for entering and exiting the same station too. It sucks that you have to go into a station to see when the next trains might be coming in, then see that they aren't even on the board becuase they are so far away, and decide to go have a coffee or something to kill the time and have to pay Metro for nothing. Worse than nothing, just crap.

Anonymous said...

About the same-station fare charges:

There is one scenario where somebody may actually take a ride on a train, just to hand something off to somebody else and return again. I've heard of people doing that, so I guess it's not totally implausible.

One solution would be to allow riders to exit free-of-charge within 5 minutes entering. Smartrip cards already calculate those 3-hour transfer windows, so I'm sure this could be implemented as well.

However, an even simpler solution would be to make sure that those next-train bulletin notices are available for passengers to view outside the faregates at all stations. That way, passengers would know about any delays before deciding to enter the system.

paul said...

At a lot of stations, the bulletin notices are visible before you enter the fare gates -- off the top of my head, Woodley Park, and Farragut North. I think other stations, too, but those are the ones I use most often.

Kara said...

Changing traffic lights is no trivial task. Not to mention it would mess up traffic patterns and those of us (including pedestrians) who have timed our routes to efficiently hit lights to reduce hitting reds.

Sam said...

I really feel for the bus drivers of this city. The only press they ever get is bad press when most of them are hardworking, friendly people just trying to make a living. We tend to gloss over the countless times they'll do little things like wait an extra 15 seconds if they see you running down the street to catch the bus. Talk to any bus driver (and I know it's not S.O.P. to talk to the passengers), and they'll echo that sentiment. So I can understand why Metro employees have become very defensive as of late.

One morning a few months back, I left my wallet on the bus. About mid-morning, I got a surprise call from the driver (while on his break) telling me he had it. I got my wallet back later that day with everything still in it and sent in a commendation that night praising the driver.

Another time, I was touched by how our bus driver literally got off the bus with a blind passenger and walked her to her next bus stop in Adams Morgan. People never hear about these encounters and I think that's why there has been a growing "Us vs. Them" mentality between Metro employees and passengers.

It would be nice if UnSuckDCMetro encouraged readers to send in some of these more positive experiences in some kind of weekly or monthly feature. It's important to bring attention to bad behavior to help stop it. But just as important is praising good behavior to help encourage it.

Anonymous said...

"Also we're gonna try to cut down on the conversatin' with passengers and just try to be more safe, but it's gonna make us run slow. So allow an extra 30 minutes."

So, engaging in chit-chat with passengers cuts minutes off the route, and avoiding that chit-chat actually adds minutes??

Anonymous said...

Following the rulebook apparently didn't apply to leaving the first stop on time. Yet again, the northbound T2 left Friendship Heights about 5 minutes early.

Also, I agree with the earlier commenter and have in fact myself sent notes on behalf of drivers who did exceptional things and even those who did a good job on a consistent basis.

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