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Faith Based Leaders and TWU President Say Part Time Bus Operators will Put Community at Risk

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Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo & MTA Chairman/CEO Joseph Lhota,

We oppose the MTA's contract demand of expanding One-Person Train Operation (OPTO) and Part-Time Bus Operators.

While the MTA currently uses OPTO on shuttles and on the G train during nights and weekends, these trains only use four cars when in operation. Expanding OPTO to full length trains increases the risks to passengers while they are entering or exiting the trains, greatly raises the difficulties and hazards involved if a train has to be evacuated, and makes it harder for a passenger who needs assistance to get it. This is especially important at a time when crime on the subways is rising. We believe that the presence of uniformed conductors on our trains is vital for the safety and assistance of passengers, especially in our full-length trains.

We also greatly disapprove of the MTA's desire to introduce Part-Time Bus Operators, which we believe puts the safety of the members of our communities at risk as they travel to work or school. Unable to support families on part-time work, these Bus Operators are likely to work two or three jobs. This, in turn, will make them more prone to fatigue and to accidents.

For example, under the MTA's proposal, a part-time operator at today's wage rate -- based on 25 hour work week-- would earn just under $27,000 a year (before taxes). After two years, the next wage progression would bump them to just under $29,000 a year (before taxes).

The economic impact of this devastating reduction in income would be felt in communities across the city. To illustrate this point, we don't need to look further than the cost of housing. Per CitiHabitats' Rental Market Analysis from March 2012, a 2-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights - arguably the one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan - has an average rent of $1,838 -- approximately 82 percent of a part-time operator's pre-tax income. In Brooklyn one of the more affordable communities is Bed Stuy, and the average rent is around $2,200 for a two bed room apartment -- a whopping 98 percent of a part-time bus operator's pre-tax income [MNS Brooklyn Market Report, June 2012, Page 9.] In the Bronx's Co-Op City, a part-time bus operator would only be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

In addition, we firmly support full-time unionized transit work, which has sustained our families and driven the growth in our communities for decades. These jobs are especially important to us because solid jobs with good wages and benefits have largely vanished in NYC. Transit work provides great opportunities for our congregants, and opening the door to part time work jeopardizes the long term economic health of the communities we represent.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman/CEO Joe Lhota, we respectfully petition that you withdraw your demands to remove conductors from our trains and ensure that Bus Operator and all other transit employment opportunities continue to be full-time across the entire system. We depend on the transit system to support our families and get to work on time and safely.

John Samuelsen
President TWU Local 100

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