April 17, 2014

LACMTA talks continue; operational funding a must

By Vic Baffoni,

Vice president, Bus Department

I extend my congratulations to all the newly elected and re-elected Bus Department officers and delegates, and I ask that they do their best to represent all their membership. Dedication and hard work must include conversation and compromise to produce results. Results are our business.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) negotiations continue on a day-by-day extension. General Chairperson James Williams and his negotiating committee continue to try to hammer out an agreement. The current political and financial climate makes it very difficult. I am confident they will succeed.

The new political environment will make it harder for our hard working members and us to succeed in the near future, but succeed we will.

In the Bus Department there is an issue that should be our priority, and that is operational funding.

Operational funding should be incorporated into all legislation that funds transit projects. Federal, state and local entities have allocated large sums of funding for new and/or expanded transit projects.

These projects fund planning and construction — not operations, which includes driver salaries.

Without operational funding, the future of these projects is in jeopardy and may only create future problems. These problems could be failure of new service, cuts in existing service, or both. UTU National Legislative Director James Stem is aware of this funding problem and has been working in Washington to educate lawmakers on this important issue. He and Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch pledge to continue fighting for this funding.