Hamilton councillors approve hiring more transit drivers to address HSR cancellations

News Nov 09, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton politicians agreed to spend $4 million to hire almost 60 new bus drivers to improve a transit system that has come under severe criticism from residents for cancelling services leaving riders standing at stops waiting for a bus that may never arrive.

Nearly 600 HSR buses were cancelled in October because there weren’t enough drivers available to staff the vehicles. HSR and city staff blamed an “unusually” high absenteeism, estimated to be almost 19 per cent last month for buses being cancelled.

The city’s transit workers absenteeism rate has steadily increased over the last five years from 12 per cent in 2012 to 15 per cent in 2014 to 17 per cent this year.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 president Eric Tuck recently stated in an email to Hamilton Community News the problem was due to the city not hiring enough drivers. He argued the absenteeism among drivers is because of illness, emergency leave or vacation. He pointed to a city transit management that “coerces” drivers to work overtime up to 68 hours per week. He also pointed to “incompetent” management decisions that he says has created the problems in the city’s transit system.

“Operators are finishing their shifts with no one at the end of the line to take over their bus and are forced to stay at work, sometimes hours longer,” said Tuck.

At the Nov. 8 council meeting Hamilton councillors in a 12 to 1 vote supported a motion introduced by Mayor Fred Eisenberger to hire 58 new drivers. The cost is estimated to be about $4 million, which includes benefits. Absent from the vote were councillors Judi Partridge and Donna Skelly.

Eisenberger said the city will eventually see a net savings of about $786,000 since the cost for the absenteeism was calculated to be about $4.7 million.

It will mean increasing the number of drivers from 484 to 542 full-time positions.

“Whatever the reason (for the transit service problems) we have a responsibility to deliver the services in our community one way or another,” said Eisenberger. “It is unacceptable buses are not able to provide service; people are left at the curb or we have to cancel service. (HSR) has to be predictable, it has to be reliable. (The motion) is a step in the right direction.”

Transit Director Debbie Dalle Vedove apologized to transit riders in a statement released Nov. 8 for the poor service and the many cancellations that have happened.

“Please know that ensuring our transit system is reliable for our customers is my top priority.”

General Manager of Public Works Dan McKinnon has already said it will take “several weeks” to hire and train new transit workers. He said 14 recently trained drivers are expected to be working in December.

“The number one priority is to have no cancelled service,” said McKinnon.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson was on board for hiring more drivers.

“Let’s not allow any regression in customer service,” he said. “Let’s try to do what we can collectively to move this department forward and provide the regular consistent running times that our riders expect.”

But Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who was the only politician to vote against the motion, said more analysis on the solution needed to be done before adding more drivers.

“Whenever we have a problem we throw money at it,” said Ferguson. “We are adding another $4 million. That’s $4 million we will have to absorb.”

Hamilton staff did attempt to address the bus problems, which have been ongoing for the last few months, by requesting the Ministry of Labour for permission to allow HSR drivers to work up to 68 hours per week. More than 100 drivers have already worked 300-plus hours of overtime this year.

As a result of the mayor’s motion, transit staff will report back to politicians within three months to evaluate the situation. The report will be just in time as politicians deliberate on the city’s 2018 budget.

Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green blamed Hamilton’s budget decision this year to not properly fund its 10-year transit strategy for creating the crisis. He said the city is “pitting” drivers against the public.

With the $4 million financial commitment, Green said the city is only “living up to our end of the bargain.”

The ongoing transit problems prompted Environment Hamilton to schedule a public meeting at City Hall Nov. 14 to talk about the service with riders. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

 

Hamilton councillors approve hiring more transit drivers to address HSR cancellations

News Nov 09, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton politicians agreed to spend $4 million to hire almost 60 new bus drivers to improve a transit system that has come under severe criticism from residents for cancelling services leaving riders standing at stops waiting for a bus that may never arrive.

Nearly 600 HSR buses were cancelled in October because there weren’t enough drivers available to staff the vehicles. HSR and city staff blamed an “unusually” high absenteeism, estimated to be almost 19 per cent last month for buses being cancelled.

The city’s transit workers absenteeism rate has steadily increased over the last five years from 12 per cent in 2012 to 15 per cent in 2014 to 17 per cent this year.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 president Eric Tuck recently stated in an email to Hamilton Community News the problem was due to the city not hiring enough drivers. He argued the absenteeism among drivers is because of illness, emergency leave or vacation. He pointed to a city transit management that “coerces” drivers to work overtime up to 68 hours per week. He also pointed to “incompetent” management decisions that he says has created the problems in the city’s transit system.

“Operators are finishing their shifts with no one at the end of the line to take over their bus and are forced to stay at work, sometimes hours longer,” said Tuck.

At the Nov. 8 council meeting Hamilton councillors in a 12 to 1 vote supported a motion introduced by Mayor Fred Eisenberger to hire 58 new drivers. The cost is estimated to be about $4 million, which includes benefits. Absent from the vote were councillors Judi Partridge and Donna Skelly.

Eisenberger said the city will eventually see a net savings of about $786,000 since the cost for the absenteeism was calculated to be about $4.7 million.

It will mean increasing the number of drivers from 484 to 542 full-time positions.

“Whatever the reason (for the transit service problems) we have a responsibility to deliver the services in our community one way or another,” said Eisenberger. “It is unacceptable buses are not able to provide service; people are left at the curb or we have to cancel service. (HSR) has to be predictable, it has to be reliable. (The motion) is a step in the right direction.”

Transit Director Debbie Dalle Vedove apologized to transit riders in a statement released Nov. 8 for the poor service and the many cancellations that have happened.

“Please know that ensuring our transit system is reliable for our customers is my top priority.”

General Manager of Public Works Dan McKinnon has already said it will take “several weeks” to hire and train new transit workers. He said 14 recently trained drivers are expected to be working in December.

“The number one priority is to have no cancelled service,” said McKinnon.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson was on board for hiring more drivers.

“Let’s not allow any regression in customer service,” he said. “Let’s try to do what we can collectively to move this department forward and provide the regular consistent running times that our riders expect.”

But Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who was the only politician to vote against the motion, said more analysis on the solution needed to be done before adding more drivers.

“Whenever we have a problem we throw money at it,” said Ferguson. “We are adding another $4 million. That’s $4 million we will have to absorb.”

Hamilton staff did attempt to address the bus problems, which have been ongoing for the last few months, by requesting the Ministry of Labour for permission to allow HSR drivers to work up to 68 hours per week. More than 100 drivers have already worked 300-plus hours of overtime this year.

As a result of the mayor’s motion, transit staff will report back to politicians within three months to evaluate the situation. The report will be just in time as politicians deliberate on the city’s 2018 budget.

Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green blamed Hamilton’s budget decision this year to not properly fund its 10-year transit strategy for creating the crisis. He said the city is “pitting” drivers against the public.

With the $4 million financial commitment, Green said the city is only “living up to our end of the bargain.”

The ongoing transit problems prompted Environment Hamilton to schedule a public meeting at City Hall Nov. 14 to talk about the service with riders. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

 

Hamilton councillors approve hiring more transit drivers to address HSR cancellations

News Nov 09, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton politicians agreed to spend $4 million to hire almost 60 new bus drivers to improve a transit system that has come under severe criticism from residents for cancelling services leaving riders standing at stops waiting for a bus that may never arrive.

Nearly 600 HSR buses were cancelled in October because there weren’t enough drivers available to staff the vehicles. HSR and city staff blamed an “unusually” high absenteeism, estimated to be almost 19 per cent last month for buses being cancelled.

The city’s transit workers absenteeism rate has steadily increased over the last five years from 12 per cent in 2012 to 15 per cent in 2014 to 17 per cent this year.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 president Eric Tuck recently stated in an email to Hamilton Community News the problem was due to the city not hiring enough drivers. He argued the absenteeism among drivers is because of illness, emergency leave or vacation. He pointed to a city transit management that “coerces” drivers to work overtime up to 68 hours per week. He also pointed to “incompetent” management decisions that he says has created the problems in the city’s transit system.

“Operators are finishing their shifts with no one at the end of the line to take over their bus and are forced to stay at work, sometimes hours longer,” said Tuck.

At the Nov. 8 council meeting Hamilton councillors in a 12 to 1 vote supported a motion introduced by Mayor Fred Eisenberger to hire 58 new drivers. The cost is estimated to be about $4 million, which includes benefits. Absent from the vote were councillors Judi Partridge and Donna Skelly.

Eisenberger said the city will eventually see a net savings of about $786,000 since the cost for the absenteeism was calculated to be about $4.7 million.

It will mean increasing the number of drivers from 484 to 542 full-time positions.

“Whatever the reason (for the transit service problems) we have a responsibility to deliver the services in our community one way or another,” said Eisenberger. “It is unacceptable buses are not able to provide service; people are left at the curb or we have to cancel service. (HSR) has to be predictable, it has to be reliable. (The motion) is a step in the right direction.”

Transit Director Debbie Dalle Vedove apologized to transit riders in a statement released Nov. 8 for the poor service and the many cancellations that have happened.

“Please know that ensuring our transit system is reliable for our customers is my top priority.”

General Manager of Public Works Dan McKinnon has already said it will take “several weeks” to hire and train new transit workers. He said 14 recently trained drivers are expected to be working in December.

“The number one priority is to have no cancelled service,” said McKinnon.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson was on board for hiring more drivers.

“Let’s not allow any regression in customer service,” he said. “Let’s try to do what we can collectively to move this department forward and provide the regular consistent running times that our riders expect.”

But Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who was the only politician to vote against the motion, said more analysis on the solution needed to be done before adding more drivers.

“Whenever we have a problem we throw money at it,” said Ferguson. “We are adding another $4 million. That’s $4 million we will have to absorb.”

Hamilton staff did attempt to address the bus problems, which have been ongoing for the last few months, by requesting the Ministry of Labour for permission to allow HSR drivers to work up to 68 hours per week. More than 100 drivers have already worked 300-plus hours of overtime this year.

As a result of the mayor’s motion, transit staff will report back to politicians within three months to evaluate the situation. The report will be just in time as politicians deliberate on the city’s 2018 budget.

Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green blamed Hamilton’s budget decision this year to not properly fund its 10-year transit strategy for creating the crisis. He said the city is “pitting” drivers against the public.

With the $4 million financial commitment, Green said the city is only “living up to our end of the bargain.”

The ongoing transit problems prompted Environment Hamilton to schedule a public meeting at City Hall Nov. 14 to talk about the service with riders. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.