Archive for May, 2013

May 28, 2013

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) board approved a plan last week to increase fares and simplify the payment process. The board also deferred votes on the agency’s proposed $1.3 billion operating budget and $300 million capital budget because of state funding uncertainties.

The board will revisit spending plans for fiscal-year 2014, which begins July 1, at a meeting to be held later this year, SEPTA officials said in a press release.

The proposed operating budget represents an increase of less than 3 percent compared with FY2013, but is projected to have a $38 million shortfall. The budget is at a 15-year low, while the proposed capital budget represents a 25 percent decrease compared with FY2010 levels, SEPTA officials said.

A recent Economy League of Greater Philadelphia report found SEPTA has efficiently used state and federal capital dollars, but would need more than $450 million in additional funds each year over the next two decades to address state-of-good-repair needs.

Meanwhile, the fare hike is in line with the board’s strategy to enact cost-of-living fare increases every three years. The new fare plan includes increasing the cash fare from $2 to $2.25 on July 1, and then to $2.50 with the implementation of a new payment technology in mid-2014.

In the coming months, SEPTA officials plan to announce a customer educational campaign about the new payment system.

via Rail News – SEPTA’s board OKs fare increase, defers budget action. For Railroad Career Professionals.


May 24, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The transit agency serving the Philadelphia area says it’s had to cancel some regional rail trains on weekends because of a shortage of engineers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports ( ) eight Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority trains had to be canceled Saturday because of crew shortages.

SEPTA has 194 locomotive engineers. A spokeswoman, Jerri Williams, says it needs 213 to be fully staffed. She says 66 percent of engineers aren’t available for weekend work because they’ve already worked all the hours allowed by federal rules. On Saturday, 12 engineers called out.

Union representative Tom Dorricott says SEPTA hasn’t been hiring enough people.

Engineers and conductors have been working without new labor contracts since 2009. But Dorricott and Williams say the labor impasse hasn’t prompted crews to stay off the job.

via SEPTA: Engineer shortage leads to canceled trains – Times Union.

May 24, 2013

Transit workers shouldn’t be forced to breathe in diesel fumes from their equipment when battery-powered alternatives are available, Transport Workers Union Local 100 safety officials said last week—especially after several public-health organizations have classified the emissions as carcinogenic.

The union is launching a campaign to educate members about the dangers of diesel fumes and press the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to replace its equipment.

‘Definitely Carcinogenic’

The National Cancer Institute last year completed a study linking lung cancer in Pennsylvania miners to diesel exposure, and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) last year classified it as “definitely” carcinogenic, placing it in the same category as asbestos.

Local 100 is targeting several pieces of diesel-powered equipment, including floor sweepers and cleaners, forklifts, generators and work trains—the locomotives that subway workers use when they’re out working on the tracks.

Work trains aren’t powered using the system’s third-rail electricity system like ordinary passenger trains, because they must remain operable when the system shuts down. But some of them—especially the ones that travel short distances to work sites rather than running the length of a subway line like garbage trains—could be replaced with models using rechargeable batteries instead, according to the union.

MTA spokesman Charles Seaton responded, “While we have not yet been contacted by the TWU, the safety of our employees is vitally important to us and we are willing to sit down and discuss any issues that give them concern. It must be noted, however, that our workers are trained in the use of the maintenance equipment to which they are assigned and the MTA is an industry leader in the clean-fuel technology used to power both maintenance and passenger equipment.”

via TWU Calling on the MTA to Remove Equipment Emitting Diesel Fumes – The Chief: News Of The Week.

May 28, 2013

As the campaign season rumbles towards the September 10 primary date, unions are placing their thumb on the scale in an attempt to elect candidates sympathetic to their interests. Accordingly, the Transport Workers Union Local 100, comprising 38,000 bus and subway employees, released a wide range of endorsements today for City Council races across the five boroughs.

“TWU Local 100 is proud to announce our support for candidates who are the strongest Public Transportation and Labor candidates in their respective races,” union president John Samuelsen said in a statement. “Every candidate was carefully screened by a team of Union officers and staff, and each person we are supporting demonstrated great knowledge and commitment to working with our union to improve public transit in New York.”

Mr. Samuelsen added, “TWU Local 100 will do everything we can to get them elected.”

The TWU endorsement list, which can be viewed in full below, contains many incumbents and Council hopefuls who have already coalesced the majority of other labor endorsements. There are some exceptions, however. For example, differing with the labor-backed Working Families Party, TWU threw support to Upper East Side candidate Ben Kallos over Assemblyman Micah Kellner, Brooklyn incumbent Sara Gonzalez over challenger Carlos Menchaca and Yetta Kurland over Corey Johnson for the Manhattan race to replace Speaker Christine Quinn.

The union is currently silent in three races as well: Councilwoman Margaret Chin’s re-election bid and the open-seat contests for outgoing Council members Gale Brewer and Oliver Koppell.

View the full list:

District 2: Rosie Mendez

District 3: Yetta Kurland

District 4: Daniel Garodnick

District 5: Benjamin Kallos

District 7: Mark Levine

District 8: Melissa Mark-Viverito

District 9: Inez Dickens

District 10: Ydanis Rodriguez

District 12: Andy King

District 13: James Vacca

District 14: Fernando Cabrera

District 15: Ritchie Torres

District 16: Vanessa Gibson

District 18: Annabel Palma

District 19: Austin Shafran

District 21: Julissa Ferreras

District 22: Costa Constantinides

District 23: Mark Weprin

District 24: Rory Lancman

District 25: Daniel Dromm

District 26: Jimmy Van Bramer

District 27: Daneek Miller

District 29: Karen Koslowitz

District 30: Elizabeth Crowley

District 31: Donovan Richards

District 32: Eric Ulrich

District 34: Antonio Reynoso

District 35: Laurie Cumbo

District 36: Robert Cornegy Jr.

District 37: Rafael Espinal

District 38: Sara Gonzalez

District 39: Brad Lander

District 40: Mathieu Eugene

District 41: Darlene Mealy

District 42: Inez Barron

District 43: Vincent Gentile

District 45: Jumaane Williams

District 46: Alan Maisel

District 47: Mark Treyger

District 48: Ari Kagan

District 49: Debi Rose

via Transport Workers Endorse in City Council Races | Politicker.

May 29, 2013

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines’ parent lost $105 million in April, but the CEO says AMR Corp. is on track for a strong profit in the April-to-June quarter.

AMR narrowed its loss for April from last year’s $142 million by cutting labor costs by $106 million, or 18 percent, to $478 million. The company has eliminated several thousand jobs since filing for bankruptcy protection in November 2011.

AMR also spent $26 million less on fuel, or $722 million. The labor and fuel cuts helped AMR reduce operating expenses by 4 percent, to $1.98 billion.

Revenue, however, slipped more than 2 percent, to $1.99 billion.

In a message to employees, CEO Tom Horton said the company — which hopes to complete a merger with US Airways in September — showed strong improvement in its financial results.

“And if current trends continue, we are well on our way to a strongly profitable second quarter,” Horton wrote.

The annual summer vacation season falls during the second and third quarters, making those the strongest of the year for airlines. Horton said American’s operation was “running well,” boosting its one-time arrival rate to more than 78 percent and reducing cancelations to less than 2 percent of flights, the best mark in seven years.

AMR filed the monthly financial reports with a federal bankruptcy court in New York. The Fort Worth company expects to exit from Chapter 11 protection in September after completing the merger with US Airways.

via American Airlines posts March loss, sees 2Q profit – Houston Chronicle.

May 29, 2013

A union representing flight attendants at Allegiant Air voiced disappointment Wednesday with the airline’s decision to cancel service between Gary and Orlando, Fla.

“We’re always disappointed when we can no longer service a community and its passengers,” said Debra Petersen-Barber, an Allegiant flight attendant who is lead negotiator for Transport Workers Union of America.

“Our goal is to meet and exceed the highest standard for customer service. We’re convinced that’s the best way to attract and retain passengers, build a successful airline and enhance the long-term job security of our members.”

Petersen-Barber criticized Allegiant for abandoning Gary after the Gary/Chicago International Airport Board approved $225,000 to market the airline’s flights to Florida. Allegiant Air began passenger service in February 2011 and it represented the first time an airline with a successful financial track record offered service out of the Gary airport.

Airport officials announced last week that Allegiant notified them it was canceling its twice-weekly flights to and from Orlando Sanford International Airport on Aug. 10. Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler told the Post-Tribune Tuesday the airline is halting the service because of a lack of demand for it.

The August stoppage will leave the airport, which is in the middle of a $166 million runway expansion, without a passenger airline.

The union has posted a website — — featuring an “UnRoute Map” showing more than a dozen routes canceled by Allegiant, and eight cities which no longer receive service.

“I guess we’ll have to make it nine,” said McDaniel.

via Union bashes Allegiant for decision to leave Gary – Post-Tribune.

May 30, 2013

DALLAS (AP) — Fewer people are working for U.S. airlines than a year ago, with the biggest declines at American Airlines — which is cutting jobs as it goes through bankruptcy — and Delta.

The government says American has the equivalent of 5,500 fewer full-time workers than a year ago.

The U.S. Transportation Department said Thursday that in March, passenger airlines employed the equivalent of 380,325 full-time workers, down 2.7 percent from a year earlier. It was the seventh straight month of year-to-year decline.

Most big airlines have returned to profitability thanks to cost-cutting, higher fares and extra fees. But they remain wary of growing too quickly in a lackluster economy. Airline revenue trends sagged in April, although industry executives have sounded more upbeat about the summer travel season.

United Airlines, including what used to be Continental, had 82,835 employees, the most in the industry and up 0.9 percent from March 2012, according to government figures. United Continental Holdings Inc. is the world’s biggest airline by passenger miles.

The second-biggest, Delta Air Lines Inc., had 73,395 jobs, a decrease of 4.1 percent, or about 3,130 jobs.

American had the equivalent of 59,006 full-time workers, down 9.9 percent from March 2012. The airline has 15.9 percent fewer workers than it did in 2009, easily the largest decline among major U.S. carriers in that period.

American and parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011. The airline eliminated thousands of jobs among ground workers, and more than 2,000 flight attendants took early retirement last year. AMR reported in a bankruptcy court filing Wednesday that its labor costs dropped 18 percent in April compared with April 2012 although it still lost $105 million in the month.

“Job reductions are an unfortunate part of restructuring, but we believe American is well on the way to being a stronger, more competitive airline,” said company spokesman Mike Trevino. “We’re already hiring new flight attendants and recalling (furloughed) pilots.”

Meanwhile, AMR is trying to complete a merger with US Airways Group Inc. that would make American the largest airline.

AMR’s regional-flying subsidiary, American Eagle, increased jobs by 13.5 percent, to the equivalent of 11,244 full-timers.

Southwest Airlines Co. cut jobs by 0.7 percent, to 45,791. The figure includes AirTran, which Southwest bought in 2011.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz called the reduction of 325 jobs “relatively flat … we are trying to reduce overhead costs at headquarters through natural attrition.”

Frontier Airlines cut the equivalent of 626 jobs, or 14 percent of its smaller work force. Its parent company has been trying to sell the financially troubled carrier.

US Airways, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air and Virgin America added jobs from March 2012 to March 2013.

The Transportation Department counts two part-timers as one full-time worker.


via American, Delta shed most jobs among US airlines – Businessweek.