You don't want us to leave early, not even just a few seconds. Nor do you want us running late, no matter the circumstances. Transit agency management, you are failing at your job, and my brothers and sisters are furious.
Once again, we're reminded how bad an idea it is to have corporate wonks in transit management. Take one of the most stressful jobs there is, add some unnecessary needling from people who have never been in the seat but think they know how it should be done, and you add to the pressure cooker. The constant harassment is adding stress, and operators are fed up.
Considering management is whining because union members won't bend over and take another contract enema, it's terribly insulting to have them insist our on-time performance (OTP) be perfect. As I've noted, you cannot have safety, customer service and schedule perfection. One or two of these is possible at times, but not all three. I've taken to leaving passengers behind if they're late to the stop. I don't need the stress caused by a manager breathing down my neck for doing my job as it should be done.
For an agency to blithely state "Safety Is Our Core Value" while also insisting we value schedule over safety is inexcusable. I don't know whose safety they value, but it's not ours. Their own safety is pretty much guaranteed... when you work in an ivory tower far away from the trenches, you can't expect to earn respect from those of us on the front lines.
One driver told me he received a "come see me" letter from a manager. The note stated that he left the garage two minutes late. His OTP is hovering at 90% for the past year, and he left his starting point on time. On his route, even if you leave a few minutes late, you can be early within 10 minutes. Sometimes it's better to leave a transit center late, especially if a light rail is arriving. People getting off the train expect buses to wait for them. Lately, I've had to leave people behind who were a mere 10 seconds late to the stop. Maybe some are on their way to work, a doctor's appointment that took weeks to schedule, or a parent's deathbed. Sorry folks, management doesn't care about your problems. They want us on time, so damnit, that's how we gotta roll.
This leads to the rise in operator assaults. Now that we can't do our job as we should, we're even bigger targets. People get understandably upset when operators change habits to the detriment of those we transport. A few seconds waiting for the elderly couple who can't run is more valuable to them than transit management's ridiculous schedule adherence mania is to the big picture. Does management hate us so much they want us to be attacked? I hope not, but their ridiculous mandates lately have most operators shaking our heads in amazement. Are they trying to improve our dismal ranking in transit agencies by bringing the average OTP up a few points? Try treating the employees with respect, and that would go a long way. This nit-picky micro-management isn't going to get the job done.
Are they trying to eliminate veteran drivers with decades of service, who are usually management's loudest critics? They hire all these newbies, throw them into full-time positions within weeks of their "going live," and wonder why they get Preventable Accidents. I've heard the attrition rate is atrocious these days. Nobody should be elevated to full-time at least until their probation is over. It's asinine. It takes months of practice to learn the skills necessary to drive 8-10 hours in service every day. It's unreasonable to expect new hires to provide the same level of service as seasoned veterans. That's why we started out working part-time for over a year or more. Perhaps they think if they replace the "trouble causers" with new drivers who have less benefits and expect less from management than we do, then they can eventually have a docile workforce they can mold into corporate robots.
When management last year decided that new hires could no longer take an afternoon to go to the union office to be officially welcomed as ATU members, it was another slap in our collective faces. Then they locked our union leadership out of the garages. It's obvious management has definite plans to totally break the bond between workers and our representative body. It has us by the short hairs, because it's illegal for us to strike. This provides management an unfair advantage. They get the gold mine, and you know where the shaft ends up.
The latest insult is management's crackdown on uniforms. Sure, some operators could clean up their act. There's always the lone wolf who wears something not acceptable to the uniform code. Others are a bit sloppy in their appearance. It's unprofessional, and it's an insult to those who show up to work looking neat and sharp. It's hard to expect the public to respect us if we look like we slept in our clothes. But of course, management once again takes it to the extreme. One operator was lectured about a logo on his socks. For crying out loud, really? Want to see the stains on our underwear from not having time to use the restroom because you require us to leave on time? Did I miss a whisker while shaving? Does my hair color match the uniform? Give me a break.
I've said it before and I'll repeat: We can do this without management. It's time for us to run the place. Get out of our way and let us roll.