Ed. note: While the discussion continues on the post we got from a Muni operator’s wife, we received a first-hand account from Will, a Muni operator, who lays forth his ideas about MTA and describes what it’s like to drive for Muni:
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Muni Drivers. First, operators are not unwilling to make sacrifices when it is appropriate to do so. However, the MTA’s proposal to freeze scheduled wage increases for an additional 12 months (we are currently under an 18-month wage freeze that expires in July of this year) came at a time when city officials were publicly questioning whether the MTA is misappropriating money budgeted for Muni service. We would like to know why the MTA gives $67 million of the Muni operating budget to other City Departments.
As for the Charter pay survey that determines our wage increases: Muni operators are worth every penny! We are the most uniquely trained and highly qualified transit operators anywhere in the world. Where else can you find antique cable cars, high speed light rail vehicles, articulated electric and diesel coaches as well as antique street cars all being operated by the same group of people?
Also, try to imagine the frenzy of activity (700,000 riders per day, 21,000,000 per month) in and around transit vehicles every day. Operators successfully manage interactions of all kinds with riders while navigating the chaos on city streets, (like patting your head and rubbing your stomach and walking on a tight rope 100 feet up). This is not a complaint but an attempt to describe the experience.
As for work rules: Operators are disciplined and fired for excessive abscences… disciplined and fired for too many passenger complaints… disciplined and fired for unsafe driving. Contrary to popular belief the MTA is very tough on drivers (many would say excessivly so). Because of the current economic conditions many San Francisco residents are unemployed and angry. This is understandable. However, it is no reason to blindly bash Muni operators for trying to hold the line against the anti-union opportunists trying to take advantage of the situation.