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The wheels on the bus go... well, nowhere

A little while ago in Boston, there was a notion of putting GPS locators on school buses. The idea was to make sure buses are where they're supposed to be, and also give parents the reassurance that the city knew where their children were at all times.

Naturally, the bus drivers' union objected. They said it was an unreasonable level of supervision, that it was overly intrusive, that it was intolerable. And since a majority of the bus drivers are black, it was racist to boot.

Well, the Boston Herald (Beantown's scrappy tabloid that's the alternative to the New York Times-owned Boston Globe) figured they'd do a little old fashioned gumshoeing. They followed around several buses over several days, and documented the results in pictures. They found buses parked for hours on end, drivers chatting in parking lots, drivers shopping, drivers driving around aimlessly, and in two memorable cases, sleeping on the bus.

That's your tax dollars at work, folks...


UPDATE: Charlie on the Pennysyvania Turnpike has been following this story both longer and better than I have. Go see him for the full poop on this one.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The wheels on the bus go... well, nowhere:

» Nobody asked me, but... linked with GPS=Racism, redux

» dustbury.com linked with Monday, Monday

» The Cassandra Page linked with School bus threat, gps and unions

Comments (13)

As I figured; the unions w... (Below threshold)

As I figured; the unions were afraid of people actually knowing where the drivers were at any given moment.

About 10-12 years ago I worked as a VAR selling financial software to the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations Division (POD). They had taken quite a sum of money to install new security on the premises, including smart-card IDs. When it became apparent to the delegates and staff that there would be a record of their comings and goings though the gates (and thus how long they remained, etc.), an uproar side-tracked that portion of the security.

In a post-9/11 world, I wonder if they ever got it deployed.

When I first heard about th... (Below threshold)

When I first heard about the union protesting I just laughed hardest the racism charge. These drivers operate under the same delusion of many municipal unions: that they own the business and need to be consulted on everything. They don't own the busses, and have (to me) absolutely no standing to decide how Boston wants to manage their infrastructure assets. Of course they don't want anyone to be able to prove most of their members are featherbedding!

(I won't even get into the fact that "school bus" and Boston" is one of the biggest lightning rods that city has ever seen.)

I worked with a guy who use... (Below threshold)

I worked with a guy who used to drive a school bus. He told me when he didn't take it to the golf course, he took it to a forest preserve top kick back a few beers.

The station I used to work ... (Below threshold)

The station I used to work at put locators on the photographer and engineer vehicles. It was supposed to be for insurance purposes, but it was just a very expensive toy in the end. It appears that the contract was written in a way that some zippy the chimp on the assignments desk who constantly polled the vehicles would rack up pennies per scan.

They never managed to get the goods on the photographers they wanted to fire.

I'm a little confused. Whe... (Below threshold)

I'm a little confused. Where are these drivers supposed
to be when they have time to kill before their next
pick-up? I imagine that they have a scheduled time to
pick up students. What's the sense in arriving early?
Are they going on duty much earlier than necessary?
What are the working hours of a Boston school bus driver?

Well Jay, what else would y... (Below threshold)

Well Jay, what else would you do between pickups and dropoffs. Bus drivers do not work all day long; they have a schedule: they pickup the kids, they drop off the kids They pick up other kids and drops those kids off. In some cases, with morning kindergarden and afternoon kindergarden classes, they pick up at school, drop off at home, then turn around and pick up at home to only drop off at school. Boring, vicious cycle and I know it well and for those with that kind of schedule, yes, they will stop, chat, eat, take a nap, whatever to pass the time. If you're a morning driver or afternoon driver only, you can actually get a second job during the day. I think our tax dollars are well spent in this venue, thank you.


What the driver's union fea... (Below threshold)

What the driver's union fears is obvious - accountability. With a proper understanding of where and when time is wasted, the district's obligation to operate efficiently will prompt them to cut the fleet. 10...15...20%? Well worth the cost of the trackers. As long as they don't have to hire union GPS installers, in which case there'd be much less hope for competent, reliable equipment.

In my county, school bus dr... (Below threshold)

In my county, school bus drivers go home when they're done with their routes in the morning, and don't drive the buses again until it's time to go out again in the afternoon (unless they're assigned to a field trip, I suppose). If they have errands, they drive their POVs, not the school bus.

The buses burn diesel that's paid for by the school district, as is the maintenance of the vehicle. Using a taxpayer-owned vehicle for private recreation during the day is stealing.

Drivers don't do that kind of thing here -- and they're not union members. Coincidence?

Almost all trucking ... (Below threshold)

Almost all trucking companies have these devices on their trucks. They have saved millions of dollars through more efficient dispatching because the dispatcher knows where every truck is at all times.

The union knows once they put these devices on the school buses the school will realize they have too many bus drivers.




Skybird, listen very carefu... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Skybird, listen very carefully. They're not tracking the DRIVERS, they're tracking the BUSES. They are not attaching the GPS units to the people, but to the vehicles (owned by either the city or the private company that provides the service). Are you saying they don't have the right to know the location of their own property at all times? The drivers don't own the vehicles, so they have very little say about what is done to them. And if they don't like what their employer does with its own property, they can go elsewhere.


And we need a union for SCH... (Below threshold)

And we need a union for SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS for what reason? It's not exactly a skilled job. It certainly is not a job that is deserving of $21/hour (then again, PA toll takers make, I believe, nearly $18/hr or so).

What unions such as this are demonstrating is the insanity of union states. Requiring union membership to work is a recipe for fiscal disaster.

Unions will fight ANYTHING --- no matter how common sense and non-invasive it is. The drivers aren't being asked to even take urine tests to make certain that they aren't loaded with drugs --- they're being asked to have the buses with GPS installed so the whereabouts of the PUBLIC PROPERTY will always be known. How the drivers can refuse to have something installed in something they do not own is beyond me.

It's time for "right to work" to become the law of the land in government jobs.

What is all boils down to i... (Below threshold)

What is all boils down to is the workers think and act like they are the bosses.

I am not endorsing sweat shops, but when Unions make demands of Management that are above and beyond a full day of work = a full day of pay, there is something decidedly wrong.






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