Second quarter results implementing new Hours of Service policy continue to show 99+ percent success rate

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2nd quarter stats show even fewer violations compared to 1st quarter

TriMet’s and the Amalgamated Transit Union’s new negotiated Interim Hours of Service (IHOS) policy for bus operators was fully implemented in June, and the second quarter results show increased compliance with more than a 99 percent success rate. The IHOS policy eliminated “double-backs” where a small number of operators took just a few hours off between service days. The IHOS policy requires either 9 or 10 hours off between service days, depending on an operator’s assignments.

“This policy change helps our operators have adequate time off between their daily assignments, and we believe it helps improve the safety of our system for them, our riders and the public,” said Shelly Lomax, TriMet executive director of Transportation.

New policy requires nine or 10 hours off between service days
TriMet and the ATU agreed on the new policy in February 2013 that requires nine hours off between each day’s assignment for “extra board” or standby bus operators, and 10 hours off for bus operators who work scheduled assignments. About 85 percent of bus operators work scheduled assignments. TriMet added 11 new operator positions in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget at a cost of about $1 million to implement the policy. As operator assignments for spring had already been selected when the policy was negotiated, a modified IHOS policy was implemented for the period between March and May. The policy is “interim” as it was negotiated outside the three-year Working & Wage Agreement.

Second Quarter results
During the second quarter since full implementation, September through November, there were 23 violations out of 56,541 work assignments. The majority of the violations were under 15 minutes. In all cases where violations occurred the operators had nine hours or more off before returning to work. Compared to First Quarter results, there was a 4.5 percent increase in the number of assignments and eight fewer violations of the policy as the workforce and management become accustomed to implementing the new policy.

Violations generally occur when buses are late returning to the facilities due to various factors such as traffic congestion. Operators sometimes incorrectly calculate the number of hours off between work and the violation is discovered when the time is entered into payroll.

On Friday, Dec. 27, The Oregonian is publishing a story on our IHOS policy implementation. The paper’s first article on overtime, double-backs and operator fatigue at TriMet ran last January.

September 2013 results
Out of 17,916 work assignments, there were 7 violations
Six of these violations were 7 minutes or less so the operators had at least 9 hours and 53 minutes of rest between service days. The largest violation was 13 minutes and provided 9 hours and 47 minutes of rest for the operator. 

October 2013 results
Out of 20,123 work assignments there were 9 violations
Seven of these violations were 10 minutes or less and provided at least 9 hours and 50 minutes of rest between service days. Two of the violations were 15 minutes and provided 9 hours and 45 minutes of rest.

November 2013 results
Out of 18,502 work assignments, there were 7 violations
Four of these violations were 10 minutes or less and provided at least 9 hours and 50 minutes of rest between service days. Two were 15 minutes or less and provided at least 9 hours and 46 minutes of rest. The largest violation was 25 minutes and provided 9 hours and 35 minutes of rest.

The importance of rest
Operating a bus or MAX train is a demanding job, and adequate rest is essential to ensure safe operations, but also for the operator’s health. Since 2006 TriMet has trained operators on the need for rest and sleep. The training includes information on sleep disorders. Screening for sleep disorders is part of TriMet’s hiring process, as well as a long-standing requirement for the Department of Transportation in order to qualify for a commercial drivers license (CDL). Any applicant or current operator who’s identified with a disorder or potential disorder is referred to a specialist. The individual would not be hired or hold a valid CDL until the issue is resolved.

Next steps
TriMet management continues to monitor compliance. Managers directly contact operators if there is a violation to reinforce the parameters of the policy and the importance of it. TriMet and the ATU continue to work cooperatively on aspects of this important safety policy.

TriMet and ATU leadership continue to meet and discuss Hours of Service as part of ongoing contract negotiations. Lomax added that, “We appreciate the continued collaboration of the ATU as we continue to refine implementation of this important policy.”