Muni Overtime Savings: At What Cost to Riders?


Photo by Matt Biddulph

The Bay Citizen reports that, as a way to trim overtime pay to its operators, Muni has been eliminating runs.

The transit agency has stopped paying overtime to replace drivers who call in sick. Instead, it is simply letting absent drivers’ buses sit idly in the yard, while riders wonder where they are.

Eight buses a day, on average, do not make their regularly scheduled runs as a result of the new practice, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose.

Read the rest of The Bay Citizen‘s report.

Pretty shady, if you ask us. What do you think: Would you rather SFMTA save money on overtime costs, or, uh, NOT catch the bus when it’s scheduled? How would you cut down on overtime costs? We’d all rather have our buses arrive when and where they should, but since that’s apparently a problem…

8 comments

  • Muni can’t win. People attack them for certain drivers making “exorbitant” six-figure salaries because of overtime, then attack them for cutting runs because they no longer pay overtime. We need to just pick one imperfect solution and deal with it.

    Personally, I’d rather they pay overtime so that I can have my bus show up.

    • Alex

      It’s not an either or (OT or lack of service). Overtime is driven by insane work rules (working past 6pm or so incurs a bonus even if your shift is an evening or night shift… filling in for sick workers is instant OT, etc). We don’t need such a large amount of overtime pay to run the system. Well, okay, we wouldn’t if there wasn’t an absenteeism rate of around 1/4 to 1/3 of the scheduled runs.

      • jds

        It’s not really that insane to get night differential pay. That’s pretty common in many union and labor jobs. It’s not a bonus. It’s incentive to work hours other people don’t want to work. It’s negotiated in most strong unions’ contracts. And filling in for sick workers is not instant OT. Each division has designated drivers who get assigned runs the night before or that morning to fill in. They get paid whatever that run pays. And a quick google search shows their absentee rate, which includes not only calling in sick but jury duty, military leave, etc, to be just under 13%, with some choice operators definitely driving those numbers up for everyone. And yes, I’m a driver, though a new one.

  • I have three options for catching a bus from my neck of the woods; 5, 31 and 38. Bottom line: There are other options for riders if they plan accordingly.

    I’d rather see them skip paying the overtime and start planning on having the routes run more efficiently. How many times do busses run back-to-back and then have one not show up for 30 minutes? There is your real cost savings.

  • Kugs

    Some routes don’t have reasonable parallel routes like the 29. Yes, there are other routes that might stop in an area, but they might travel towards a totally different area of the city. You also have routes like the 28 that get overloaded, though there are some alternatives depending on where you are along the line. Parkmerced gets pretty lousy service considering how big it is. The bus going south is usually jammed by the time it leaves SFSU going towards Daly City so its often not possible for those people to get on the bus. The 17 appears to be the only route serving that area that I don’t see jammed buses as often. Muni could save on labor if they adopted a policy of only buying the articulated buses unless dealing with roads with really tight corners. The longer buses would make it possible to provide faster service (more boarding/exit doors) and carry more people per run which would mean that really long lines probably would need one or two fewer vehicles, while also tackling the crowding problems.

  • Jim

    Since Muni line managers still manage their lines as if it still were the 1950’s, it doesn’t matter whether runs aren’t filled. Inept line management, bunching, and poor traffic enforcement are far greater problems that drag down Muni performance every day.

  • skitten

    I thought this was a basic problem of the muni contract – absenteeism is unpunished.

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