Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 8

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Legal dispute prompts feds to withhold $2 billion in transit (L.A. Times) 

More media coverage of the ongoing dispute in which the U.S. Department of Labor is blocking federal transportation grants to Metro because of a complaint by unions that the state pension reform law is violating their rights to collective bargaining. Of course, if funding for operations or future projects is cut, the rights of many other people and workers just trying to reach their jobs will be violated.

350,000 electric cars in Southern California by 2020? So Cal Edison is getting ready (KCET)

About 12,000 of the utility’s customers own or lease an electric car. If that number mushrooms to 350,000, the utility says it will have some serious upgrading to do because electric cars can use a lot of a household’s electricity and they tend to do it at odds hour (overnight). The impact will also depend on whether customers use household outlets to re-charge their cars or upgrade to faster and more demanding level 2 chargers. It remains to be seen, of course, whether the popularity of plug-in hybrids takes off; I think the price of purely electrical vehicles will keep large number of potential customers at bay.

Dead shark ends up on New York subway car, forcing evacuation (Channel 4, New York)

Sorry, I couldn’t get the video to embed. Watch at the above link. It was a small sand shark and — surprise — the train was coming from Coney Island. Interesting fact: sharks are allowed on the New York subway as long as they are in a “proper container.” Metro’s Code of Conduct says that animals must be in a secure carrier (unless they are service animals) and must be under an owner’s control.

Through a forgotten bridge engineer, a vision of Los Angeles (L.A. Times) 

Nice story by Tom Curwen on bridge engineer Henry Parker, who designed many of the city’s bridges over its namesake river.

12 replies

    • Hi DudeAbides;

      I’m disappointed in the accusatory tone and inaccuracy of your comment, not to mention the fact there’s really nothing similar about the shark story and what happened Tuesday. Here’s what I wrote yesterday on the comment board:

      My thinking on this has evolved in my time with Metro. I usually want to push out as much news as is possible. That said, I’ve been doing this for a while now and I remain deeply uncomfortable speculating when it comes to incidents involving Metro. Second, and equally important, we have to consider the safety of current and future customers and I think it’s reasonable, if in my shoes, to ask this question: are there certain types of behavior that perhaps we don’t want to publicize or inadvertently encourage?

      I understand where many of you are coming from. You don’t want to be treated like children and you want to be informed. I totally understand. We tried our best to use our web resources yesterday to get people where they wanted to go. We also have to use our best judgment at times on the information we push out and that depends, to some degree, on the circumstances of a particular incident and what we do or don’t know about it in “real time.”

      This answer will almost certainly not satisfy many of you, but I want to explain my thinking as best as possible.

      I also left a comment later on the board explaining to a reader that at this time Metro does not believe there was any malice involved in Tuesday’s incident.

      As far as I can tell, the incident also did not receive much media attention. While I understand expectations for coverage from us may be higher — after all, it’s Metro’s train and facilities — I also think you may want to aim your vitriol at a wider range of people if your point is that you believe the incident deserved more coverage.

      Furthermore, this idea of yours that we didn’t “cover” the incident is just plain wrong. We pushed a lot of information about delays and possible detours through our social media and web resources. While I totally accept any criticism that we could have done this better, I completely reject your notion that we ignored the incident.

      It was a very sad thing that happened Tuesday, for the victim, for the victim’s family and for Metro’s customers and employees who had to bear witness to what happened. We are going to do our best to prevent it from happening again.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  1. Unions should be made illegal. If they want better pay and benefits, they should study hard and went to college like the rest of the hard working people. You only have a high school diploma or a GED, you get a high school diploma pay, simple as that. You want better pay, start going to community college and work your way up!

    • Unions should be illegal? You really think it’s that black-and-white? Should unions have always been illegal? There are no college graduates in unions?

      I mean, c’mon. I don’t even qualify that type of comment as a comment. It’s just yelling nonsense for the sake of getting a reaction. It also drags down the IQ of this comment board, which is too bad — because there are some really smart and interesting people who comment here and who are capable of articulating and arguing a wide range of opinions.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. There are so many things I want to say about SharkNado and Shark Week…it’s hard to pick just one. 🙂

  3. Considering Metro is about to pay 32 call center FTE to bring the TAP customer service in house due to union arbitration, one should consider that metro is paying $74,000 for what is essentially an entry level position. So in the publicly funded agency realm, yes we should question do unions make sense. Steve is right that it is not a binary issue, but when tax payers are funding the organization, why shouldn’t they be more efficient with funds.

  4. Here’s what I don’t get. Is there a law that says Metro can only hire union bus drivers? If the Teamsters are getting too greedy, why can’t Metro just go out and find non-union bus drivers? With the sour economy,there’s a lot of Class A or B driver license holders out there with enough credentials and years of experience who are out of a job and are desperate to take any job opening that comes along. A lot of truck drivers and school bus drivers are out of a job these days because trucking companies have cut back and schools being closed down. Why doesn’t Metro do a big job fair to hire the folks who are well qualified, have years of experience and are desperately trying to find a job?

  5. S Alvarez, the Metro website has details on employment opportunities and it also attends job fairs etc.

    BTW, Teamster represent Metro’s Security force. The collective bargaining agreement for operators is with the United Transportation Union. When one is hired by Metro as an operator automatically they are represented by the UTU.

    I included some background on Metro and unions in a past post for Streetsblog:
    http://la.streetsblog.org/2012/02/15/unhappiness-on-the-labor-front-in-metro-land/
    http://www.metro.net/about/jobs/

  6. S Alvarez,

    It’s complicated. It all goes back to the big debate should CA have a right-to-work law or not.

    Yes Metro can hire non-union bus drivers. But the when those non-union bus drivers become Metro bus drivers, the Teamsters can collect membership dues from the new bus drivers on the premise that the Teamsters have fought and are continuing to fight for labor’s rights and in order to do so, they must pay their dues.

    Right-to-work is one of the big political topics in the US. Twenty-four states in the US have right-to-work laws while 26 states (one of which being CA) and the District of Columbia do not. Both sides have good arguments as unions are based on the right to assemble and right to association guaranteed by our Constitution, however the other side says forcing employees to join a union or forcing collection of dues as a condition of employment is a violation of an inalienable right of choice.

    Even within CA where the political climate is friendly to unions, right-to-work is a hot debate. The most recent was last year under where Prop 32 if passed, would stop special interest groups to influence politics, one of which included a provision to prevent unions from using dues for political lobbying efforts. Though Prop 32 failed to pass, neither yes or no got a super majority.

    If you are pro-union, you should vote no on any propositions regarding CA moving to enact right-to-work laws. If you are anti-union, then you should vote yes for CA to pass right-to-work laws.

  7. Thanks for making things clear. I find it absurd that people should be forced to join a union in order to work. Everyone is having a hard time in CA today, city budgets are shrinking, while unions continue to get generous benefits. Unions, especially those that work in the public sector, should give in a little.