Starting this fall, some of the operators driving Muni buses will only be working for the transit agency part-time.
These new drivers are the legacy of Proposition G, a ballot measure passed by San Francisco voters in 2010. Prop G gave SFMTA significantly more leverage in its negotiations with the union representing over 2,000 Muni operators.
The mechanisms in Prop G allowed SFMTA to wring a number of long-hoped for concessions out of the union, such as allowing for the of hire up to approximately 200 part-time workers.
The city's contract with the union previously required Muni to exclusively employ full-time drivers, which reduced the amount of flexibility the transit agency had in scheduling increased service during periods of higher demand. Agency officials had also blamed the prohibition for requiring them to spend more money on overtime for full-time workersthe San Francisco Bay Guardian estimates that that this rule cost the city $11 million annually.
The last time a part-time crew was used to augment the full-time force was in 2005, said union President Rafael Cabrera. He said of their reintroduction, "It is what it is." But, he added, no one should think that their addition will fix the ailing system. He said equipment failures are still a major cause of Muni's service problems.
Under a contract approved earlier this year, the part-timers will be able to work no more than 25 hours per week.
Muni operations chief John Haley says the part-time drivers will likely be assigned to such runs as the 1-California, the 8-Bayshore and the 31-Balboa express lines. They will also pick up some weekend shifts.
The agency's first crop of 32 part-time drivers will be graduating from their training program in October and are expected to start driving routes later that same month.
They will then get to experience all the joys of Muni on a slightly-less-than-daily basis.