Bus Drivers Again Muzzled At CARTA Board; Union Leader Says Morale Is At Low Ebb

Thursday, February 15, 2018
Muzzled CARTA bus drivers at board meeting
Muzzled CARTA bus drivers at board meeting

Members of CARTA's bus drivers union were literally muzzled at a meeting of the CARTA board on Thursday.

Billy Nye, president of the local Amalgamated Transit Union, said the drivers have been trying since November to be able to address the entire board.

Once again denied on Thursday, a number of members held signs and had blue painter's tape over their mouths.

Mr. Nye said longtime CARTA board chairman Steve Jett "wants us to go to the side and meet with him and the executive director (Lisa Maragnano). What we want is to be able to take our concerns to the entire board."

The CARTA board went behind closed doors prior to the start of the 10 a.m. meeting.

They held a short business meeting, then the chairman called an intermission.

At the meeting, Ms. Maragnano said both transit and shuttle ridership are down. For the year to date, transit has dropped from 963,493 to 938,470. The free electric shuttle is down from 461,486 to 397,509.

Mr. Nye said the bus drivers are overworked, and he said that presents a safety hazard for the public.
 
He said, "It needs to be known this forced overtime has been the norm at CARTA for the past three to four years. This is not a recent situation as Ms. Maragnano Implies. As a result CARTA has had more drivers out on long term sick leave, and new employee turnover is higher than it ever has been in CARTA history. Also, the morale of the employees of CARTA's biggest division is very low."
 
He also said, "CARTA management claims that safety and service to our customers is the top priority. What about the four bus routes that were not covered this past Nov. 6. Numerous passengers between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. were impacted because of this. These are people who need CARTA in order to get to their places of work.
 
"CARTA  upper management has made several changes to our bus routes in the past two to three years and our ridership has dropped significantly. At the end of our last fiscal year our total ridership was down over 219,000 riders. So far this current fiscal year CARTA is down by thousands. Executive Director Lisa Maragnano has no plan to build it back up and we are worried as employees this will affect federal , state and local funding that may jeopardize Carta's ability to provide the service that it does now.
 
"If safety was a concern, CARTA would be more diligent at being better staffed with drivers beyond even what the DOT and TDOT considers unsafe hours behind the wheel. CARTA management is aware of constant maintenance issues with the buses and has not held the manager of maintenance accountable for these repeated issues. They keep putting these buses back out on the road only to have more road service calls, breakdowns and maintenance-related problems again and again with some of the same buses. On multiple times the buses are unable to make pull-out and trips or routes are entirely missed.
 
"We are not able to  service  the public that needs our services the most and, quite frankly, they have lost confidence in our service just like the employees have lost confidence in Executive Director Maragnano's leadership."

 

CARTA bus wreck on MLK Boulevard on Wednesday
CARTA bus wreck on MLK Boulevard on Wednesday


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BALL, DARRELL LAMAR  2311 BENTON AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37406  Age at Arrest: 56 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- BEARDEN, CADE A  2212 N FORK DRIVE SODDY DAISY, 37379  Age at Arrest: 19 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputies Reporting Numerous Roads in Hamilton County Covered With Rushing Or Standing Water

Due to heavy rains, HCSO deputies are reporting that the following areas are experiencing rushing or standing water over the roadway.  Drivers in the Hixson, Soddy Daisy, and Middle Valley areas are encouraged to avoid driving in low lying areas. All drivers should exercise caution. Drivers should avoid the areas below until the water recedes. Do not attempt ... (click for more)

It’s Time To Restore A Valuable Tool To Prosecutors By Fixing The ACCA

Violent crime rates in our country tripled from 1964 to 1980.  Robbery tripled, murder doubled, and aggravated assault nearly tripled.  This was an alarming time for communities across our nation.   To fight back, Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act in 1984, giving federal prosecutors a powerful new tool to deal with the growing rate of violent crime.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

I have to admit I am still laughing over the fact over 350 newspapers ganged up against President Trump’s stance on Thursday that the media is biased towards his administration. In a concerted effort these newspaper editors proved Trump to be exactly right. How in the name of common sense could any man, event, or natural phenomena cause every newspaper to unite is such a laughable ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Quinn Scores Two TDs In Owls' 21-7 Win Against Tyner

Friday’s season-opening high school football showdown between Tyner and Ooltewah, turned out to be a short one on the field, but a prolonged rain delay turned into an incessant waiting game Friday night at James N. Monroe Stadium, and the Owls managed to walk – maybe float would be more accurate – away with a 21-7 victory. With the teams barely into the locker rooms at halftime, ... (click for more)

UTC Soccer Wins Season Opener 3-0

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer team came away with a 3-0 victory over Alabama A&M Friday afternoon at Finley Stadium in the season opener for both teams. The Mocs got the scoring started with a goal in the second minute. Senior Masey Fox picked up a pass from junior Bailey Gale from the right side to give the Mocs a quick 1-0 lead. “To start ... (click for more)