NTSB Report Confirms Need to Change Interstate Bus Overtime Rules, Transit Union Praises Sen. Schumer & Rep. Velazquez for Leadership
Media Contacts: David Roscow, 202-537-1645
Washington, DC - Driver fatigue, the single largest cause of fatal intercity bus accidents, must be addressed in bus safety reform and legislation says the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in reaction to a report on Curbside Motorcoach Safety released today by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Among the key findings in the report the NTSB identified “driver fatigue as a contributing factor to fatal motorcoach accidents and has identified driver fatigue as a issue on its Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements.” The report says the growing curbside bus industry has created challenges for enforcement authorities and stronger oversight is needed.
“Driver fatigue is a problem throughout the industry not just in so-called curbside operators,” said Lawrence J. Hanley, International President of the ATU, which represents drivers at Greyhound and other intercity bus operators. “Hundreds of intercity bus companies get away with paying their bus drivers criminally low wages, forcing drivers to work 100 hours a week or more, often balancing two or three jobs, just to make a living. The unsuspecting customers get on these buses and disaster can strike.”
According to the ATU report Sudden Death Overtime, which highlights the issue of intercity bus accidents, the NTSB estimates that 36 percent of motorcoach crash fatalities over the past decade have been due to driver fatigue. It is the number one cause of fatal accidents, far above road conditions (two percent) or inattention (six percent). The full report can be found here.
“While a more rigorous regulatory regime for this industry is critically important – any serious proposal to clean up the discount bus industry unequivocally has to include a solution for driver fatigue.,” said Hanley. “We thank Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) for their leadership on this important issue.”
Hanley and the ATU are calling on Congress to include an amendment to The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011 that would ensure that the overtime provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are applied to bus drivers for these companies.
Currently intercity bus drivers are exempt from these provisions and many are forced to work second jobs during their so-called “rest period” just to make ends meet. Under the ATU’s proposed reforms, drivers would get paid fairly for the work they put in above 40 hours per week, making them less inclined to work other jobs while pushing their bodies to the limit.
“For decades FLSA has covered 85 percent of American workers,” said Hanley. “In the intercity bus industry, the lack of guaranteed overtime pay after a forty-hour work week is a dangerous exception to the rule. Extending these protections to intercity bus drivers is not only the right thing to do; it’s the safe thing to do for our riders. Until the issue of driver fatigue is addressed, no legislation to improve intercity bus safety will be complete, or effective.”
About the ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of itshard-working members.