There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

RT's communications deficit

Sacramento Regional Transit is in the midst of contract negotiations. But of course you don't know that. At least you don't know that if you monitor

Back in December, the RTDriver guy posted that the district had failed to convince IBEW Local 1245 of the merits of its offer. On Dec. 10, the members voted against the offer 202 to 1.

Today, contract flu apparently decimated the ranks of RT mechanics, with nearly all of them calling in sick.

The details of the sick out are being distributed to reporters and news outlets. Here's what Matthew McGuire is reporting at From The Capitol:

Nearly all of Sacramento Regional Transit’s crew of 40 mechanics called in sick this morning in an apparent job action related to their ongoing contract talks with the provider of light rail and bus service in Sacramento, RT officials said.

RT spokesman Ed Scofield said supervisors handled fueling and other early morning chores, and all light-rail trains and all but two bus lines operated normally. Scofield said a bus assigned to Route 1 in the Sunrise Mall area missed two runs, meaning riders waited 30 minutes, rather than 15, for their bus to arrive.

A bus assigned to Route 51 along Broadway missed one run, resulting in a maximum wait of 30 minutes, RT said.

Scofield said more mechanics, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, could call in sick for later shifts today, but RT officials were preparing to have supervisors fill in.
Service is being disrupted. Riders are left wondering what's happened. And nothing is said on RT's Web site.

There's nothing under "Service Status Alert," despite the promise:
Frequently Updated

RT makes special efforts to provide timely information to our customers including updates through our call center and web site. Updated information will be posted to the web site ( and through our call center 321-BUSS (2877) on a regular basis.
There's nothing under press releases, even though a press release is obviously in circulation.

I have no idea whether RT has offered its workers a fair deal. I don't know if the unions are featherbedding and otherwise keeping RT from improving efficiency. What I do know is that RT has a real problem with its commitment to serve its riders if it can't do better at keeping riders informed.

UPDATE AT 5 P.M.: The Bee had the story on its Web site by 9:29 a.m. KCRA had the story up by 7:32 a.m., with updates at 12:17. The KCRA story, however, was hardly worth the effort, at least what was left after the "update." The MSNBC version of KCRA's story was posted at 12:34 and just as useless.

Still nothing at

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