TriMet operator fatigue: Live chat with reporter Joseph Rose
11:48
The Oregonian: 
Welcome to our live chat on TriMet overtime and operator fatigue. Reporter Joseph Rose will join us at noon. Until then, feel free to submit your questions and comments. Expect a short delay between the time you post and the time you see your submission in the chat.
Monday January 7, 2013 11:48 The Oregonian
11:52
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Monday January 7, 2013 11:52 
11:59
The Oregonian: 
The Oregonian's Mark Friesen will also join the chat. Mark is a data journalist who contributed to this project.
Monday January 7, 2013 11:59 The Oregonian
11:59
Joseph Rose: 
OK. Ready to roll.
Monday January 7, 2013 11:59 Joseph Rose
11:59
Joseph Rose: 
Hello, everyone.
Monday January 7, 2013 11:59 Joseph Rose
12:00
The Oregonian: 
Joe, tell us how you got started on this project. The quick version.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:00 The Oregonian
12:00
Joseph Rose: 
The quick version. Aye!
Monday January 7, 2013 12:00 Joseph Rose
12:00
Joseph Rose: 
It started with the MAX train crash at the Expo Center in late 2011 and a tip that the operator fell asleep.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:00 Joseph Rose
12:01
Joseph Rose: 
Then more tips from TriMet employees about reports of drivers nodding off.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:01 Joseph Rose
12:01
Joseph Rose: 
And then requests for thousands of pages of documents that also showed drivers working as many as 22 hours in a 24-hour period.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:01 Joseph Rose
12:02
Joseph Rose: 
And the rise of the $100,000 bus driver as TriMet put a hiring freeze into place and needed to fill scheduling holes.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:02 Joseph Rose
12:02
Joseph Rose: 
And here we are.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:02 Joseph Rose
12:02
[Comment From chrischris: ] 
I wonder how TriMet officials would feel if they had to board a flight and found out the pilot just put in a 20 shift? Am I supposed to feel any safer because I'm just on a bus?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:02 chris
12:02
Joseph Rose: 
I'm not sure how I can answer that question for TriMet execs ...
Monday January 7, 2013 12:02 Joseph Rose
12:03
Joseph Rose: 
But I did stop GM Neil McFarlane outside a board meeting a couple weeks ago.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:03 Joseph Rose
12:04
Joseph Rose: 
I had my MacBook Air on me and offered to show him what we had found when we ran a query on TriMet's payroll database (which we had to spend more than $1,000 for -- six months worth of records).
Monday January 7, 2013 12:04 Joseph Rose
12:04
Joseph Rose: 
Mr. McFarlane said: "No. I already have a pretty good idea what it says."
Monday January 7, 2013 12:04 Joseph Rose
12:05
Joseph Rose: 
Thats said, this is a complex topic that isn't easily solved. It has to be negotiated and the absenteeism rate at TriMet's garages is about 10 percent.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:05 Joseph Rose
12:06
Joseph Rose: 
I'm not going to say TriMet management doesn't care about safety. Indeed, I think the contrary. They have to. The public needs to have confidence in its transit system. But there's no easy fix here.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:06 Joseph Rose
12:06
[Comment From AlexAlex: ] 
how is that legal?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:06 Alex
12:06
Joseph Rose: 
As the story says, federal hours of service rules, requiring 8 to 10 hours off for charter bus drivers, train engineers, truckers and pilots, don't apply to public transit bus drivers.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:06 Joseph Rose
12:07
Joseph Rose: 
TriMet has an HOS policy for bus drivers, but it only says drivers have the right to ask for 9 hours off between shifts/service days. They don't have to. And many don't.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:07 Joseph Rose
12:08
[Comment From Anne N.Anne N.: ] 
Other commercial drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 12 hours at a time, I beleive, why does Trimet not have to obey federal law?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:08 Anne N.
12:08
Joseph Rose: 
As I say in the story, bus operators have more lives in their hands at any given moment than the average firefighter or cop, so you think they would apply.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:08 Joseph Rose
12:09
Joseph Rose: 
However, TriMet is not an interstate agency. And the feds don't require those strict times off between shifts.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:09 Joseph Rose
12:09
The Oregonian: 
Mark, here's a question about the numbers from Khris.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:09 The Oregonian
12:09
[Comment From khriskhris: ] 
that info is wrong
Monday January 7, 2013 12:09 khris
12:09
[Comment From khriskhris: ] 
trimet drivers cant work more then 16 hrs aday and that time starts at 4am daily
Monday January 7, 2013 12:09 khris
12:10
Joseph Rose: 
Hi, Khris. You're talking about a service day. And it's actually 17 hours. That's different.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:10 Joseph Rose
12:10
The Oregonian: 
And Joe, for you from al m:
Monday January 7, 2013 12:10 The Oregonian
12:10
[Comment From al mal m: ] 
Hey Joe what did you think of Shelly's response to your article
Monday January 7, 2013 12:10 al m
12:11
Joseph Rose: 
Hi, Al. What part of it exactly. Shelly is in a tough spot. This is a complex issue and she has to keep the buses rolling while working with the union on contract limitations. I'm not sure ...
Monday January 7, 2013 12:11 Joseph Rose
12:12
Joseph Rose: 
However, I was concerned about her use of the words "rare" and "some" to describe these issues ....
Monday January 7, 2013 12:12 Joseph Rose
12:13
Joseph Rose: 
I think public safety should bee a pro-active propisition, rather than reactive out after one of the "rare4" or "some" drivers works too many hours and has a tragic crash.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:13 Joseph Rose
12:13
[Comment From al mal m: ] 
the buses will roll no matter what shelly does
Monday January 7, 2013 12:13 al m
12:13
Joseph Rose: 
be not bee
Monday January 7, 2013 12:13 Joseph Rose
12:13
[Comment From JimJim: ] 
Isn't this more about the union than it is about management? Seems like, once again, contract ties management's hands.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:13 Jim
12:13
[Comment From Paul MansonPaul Manson: ] 
You mentioned 10% absenteeism in the story. Do you know how that compares to other agencies? It seems high on the face of it.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:13 Paul Manson
12:14
[Comment From al mal m: ] 
the union has nothing to do with handing out work assignments
Monday January 7, 2013 12:14 al m
12:14
Joseph Rose: 
Paul: It's higher than most, according to my research. I'm working on a follow-up story looking at this issue in transit. It's complex and goes back years.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:14 Joseph Rose
12:14
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
Has anyone asked the operator Larry Porter who saved the lady from being assaulted his opinions on this?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:14 David
12:15
Joseph Rose: 
David: I love talking to Larry. I'd enjoy chatting with him -- any chance I get. But Larry's work schedule isn't one of the ones under scrutiny.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:15 Joseph Rose
12:15
[Comment From noahnoah: ] 
What will it take to change the culture at Trimet? Does the governor have to exert more direct control to show all parties that wholesale reform is needed?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:15 noah
12:15
[Comment From khriskhris: ] 
why blame drivers?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:15 khris
12:15
[Comment From khriskhris: ] 
drivers follow the hos policy
Monday January 7, 2013 12:15 khris
12:16
Joseph Rose: 
Noah: Let me think about that. That's a tough one to answer, given how the union and TRiMet both raise legitimate challenges to fixing things.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:16 Joseph Rose
12:17
Joseph Rose: 
Khris: Yes, drivers do. But unlike rail, bus drivers can take only a couple hours off after working a service day and come back and work another one without violating the HOS policy.
Monday January 7, 2013 12:17 Joseph Rose
12:17
[Comment From khriskhris: ] 
I have that document here in my hand it says 16 and there is no trimet policy that says in a 24 hr period I recall just service day
Monday January 7, 2013 12:17 khris
12:17
Joseph Rose: 
Khris: As a driver, are you in favor switchbacks -- working 10 hour sone service day that ends at 2 a.m. and coming back at 4 a.m. the next service day to work another 12 hour shift?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:17 Joseph Rose
12:18
[Comment From klekle: ] 
why doesn't OSHA get involved with the hours of service, breaks, and safety issues for drivers?
Monday January 7, 2013 12:18 kle
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