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TriMet: Back-to-back shifts almost eliminated

TriMet is spending about $1 million to hire 11 new operators to fully implement its revised Hours of Service policy designed to prevent bus and MAX from just taking a few hours off between work days.

“There has been a tremendous effort to educate our operations team on implementing this new policy, and we believe that the policy results in safer operations for our operators, our riders and the public at large,” said TriMet Executive Director of Safety, Security and Environmental Services Harry Saporta. “We appreciate the collaboration of the ATU as we refine and improve implementation of the policy.”

The revised policy was negotated with Amalgamated Transit Union 757 and enacted in June. Since then the number of so-called "double-back" incidents has significantly decreased, according to TriMet.

Although the revised policy was negotiated outside the existing contract, TriMet and the ATU continue to meet to refine it for inclusion in the 2012-215 contract.

TriMet and the ATU agreed on the new policy in early February 2013. It requires none hours off between each day’s assignment for “extra board” or standby bus operators, and 10 hours off for operators who work scheduled assignments.

About 85 percent of bus operators work scheduled assignments. As operator assignments had already been made when the policy was negotiated, a modified HOS policy was implemented for that period between March and May.

According to TriMet, out of 16,666 work assignments in June there were 16 HOS violations. Ten of the violations were the result of operators being delayed on their return to the garage and submitting time slips processed later that resulted in violations of the minimum time off before their next day’s assignment. The violations ranged between 1 minute and 19 minutes. Eight of the violations were five minutes or less.Three violations related to a one to two minute programming error that was quickly corrected. Two violations were actual assignment errors. One violation was related to an operator assisting with a bus trade. The longest violation was 19 minutes and allowed for 9:41 of rest between assignments.

Out of 18,479 work assignments in July, there were 11 HOS violations. Ten were the result of operators returning late to the garage and submitting time slips that were processed later. Six of the 11 violations were nine minutes or less off from the previous work day. One violation was related to transferring a bus to another operator. The most serious violation involved a 43 minute time slip issue where the operator was delayed returning to the garage and allowed only 9:17 hours off between assignments.

As of August 12, barring any unforeseen time slips that may be turned in late, there have been no HOS violations.

Any violation of the policy is reported to all Operations executives, who direct and oversee appropriate follow up with managers and operators to reinforce the policy. Additionally, if an operator returns to the garage after their scheduled time, station management makes necessary changes to the following day’s assignment necessary to comply with the policy.