November 29, 2022

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

ATU Local 757: LTD drivers face dangerous working conditions

5 min read
Conditions on the streets---and on the buses---are becoming more and more stressful for LTD drivers.

LTD is having a hard time retaining bus drivers due to hazardous working conditions. Speaking on his own behalf, and for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, bus operator Farley Craig.

[00:00:12] Farley Craig: We’ve lost a lot of drivers due to COVID, but now, unfortunately, we’re losing drivers just because it’s become increasingly harder and harder to be a driver here.

[00:00:25] I mean, it’s just a revolving door. We’ll get some people, but then all of a sudden we’ll lose a bunch of people too. And it’s just, we’ve been running at an unsustainable pace.

[00:00:36] The mental health issue in Eugene, homelessness, and drug use has really fallen through the cracks and so that all of the mental illness and homelessness end up kind of falling on the second tier. So it ends up falling on the nurses at the ER rooms, it falls on business owners, it falls on the bus drivers, and it’s been really frustrating to watch.

[00:01:02] A lot of ’em really want security up, on the buses. A lot of ’em, they’re really frustrated with the legalized drug use. When you have people OD’ing on your bus all the time, it’s frustrating.

[00:01:16] I don’t think that more people are using drugs, but I think that they’re much more being open about it. It’s not something that you hide anymore, is what I’ve seen out there.

[00:01:27] A strong sense of unease right now is what’s been going on.

[00:01:27] A strong sense of unease right now is what’s been going on.

[00:01:34] John Q: Farley said it’s especially stressful for drivers on the West Eugene EmX.

[00:01:38] Farley Craig: Their solution for lack of security on the EmX bus, which has definitely been a thing, has been that they’re not going to really push for people to have passes on the bus. They’ve found that somebody’s trying to get from Point A to Point B and we bring up a fare issue, then they can go south really quick. Over what? That they didn’t pay $1.75 to get from Point A to Point B.

[00:02:07] So that’s understandable, but at the same time, it’s really set a precedent for kind of like a free-for-all. There’s not much accountability for riding the bus going out on West 11th and it really sucks because some of ’em don’t really have the ability to figure out which way how to ride the bus. Some of ’em just are… they know that they can get away with it. There’s not too much that we can do.

[00:02:35] We feel very limited in our ability to have any sort of say what’s going on, on the bus. And I mean, I get it. I get that there’s been a real social change but as a bus driver, we are neither trained, nor do we have the ability to continuously police all the issues that are going on, on the bus while driving a 60-foot machine down the road.

[00:03:04] So we’ve had to just totally ignore what’s going on in the back of the bus and let the riders deal with it themselves, which is really unfortunate. Or make a stink and then be almost chastised for it because there’s nothing that really LTD or Eugene can do that they want to do, because it just creates more problems.

[00:03:26] There’s a lot of situations where we don’t have any tools. And not only do we not have any tools, but we’re even, we’re at a detriment from the beginning because we have no ability to deal with these situations. And so, it just makes for burnout so much quicker too.

[00:03:44] John Q: The police are reporting more arrests of armed groups and armed individuals. Farley Craig.

[00:03:49] Farley Craig: I’ve had some guys with guns get on my bus. It’s frustrating too because there’s nothing I can do about it. You can’t call it in. I mean, you can call it in, but there’s nothing really that anyone can do about it ‘cause they might have a concealed carry permit but when they bend over and you see a gun sticking out of their back, it’s really frustrating. It’s really frustrating for a lot of drivers.

[00:04:09] I’ve seen some stuff that’s worried me. I’ve seen some Zeta postings around there and Zeta’s a bad gang and I don’t know if it’s just been kids going around pretending, but it’s a gang that infiltrated a lot of the prisons. And from what I understand, they’re no joke. And I’ve seen a couple of tags. It’s a Z with a line through it and it scares me a bit because I see a community that is a little bit against itself. It doesn’t really know which way it wants to go, so it’s trying to figure those things out. But it’s also I hate to say it, it’s a fertile ground for a little bit more hardcore gang activity.

[00:04:51] John Q: Drivers are frustrated that some riders aren’t behaving properly, and there’s not much the drivers can do about it.

[00:04:57] Farley Craig: You’ll see some of the drivers and it’s just like they’re hardly there, which I mean is tough. They can still drive their bus and pick up passengers, but it’s frustrating because I do like being a part of the community. And I know that other drivers do too. I mean, it’s great. Sometimes you run into people and they’ve got questions and they need help with something and you’re able to provide that for them, which feels very rewarding. And so, do you either just compartmentalize it? Or, do you let it get to you?

[00:05:28] And I love the people that I work with. I absolutely love—It’s been the best people that I’ve ever worked with and I’ve really developed some really strong friendships and stuff, and it’s really hard to watch them struggle.

[00:05:44] Yeah. I love my job. I wish I could trust my job, I wish that I could feel that both the employer and the community have our backs.

[00:05:55] John Q: Conditions on the streets and on the buses are becoming more and more stressful for LTD drivers.

Farley Craig is speaking on his behalf and on behalf of ATU 757 and is not representing any official positions of Lane Transit District.

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