Late Fees: Muni Drivers’ Class-Action Suit May Cost the Agency Millions of Tardy Dollars

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

Running a slow transit service quickly racks up costs. You have to deploy that many more vehicles to carry the same number of fare-paying passengers as a faster-moving service. And Muni is the slowest transit service in all North America.

That slowness may end up costing Muni even more, according to a 2012 class-action suit wending its way through federal court with Muni-like speed, brought by some 233 drivers representing more than 2,000 of their brethren.

The agency, allege aggrieved drivers Darryl Stitt, Tony Grandberry, and Hedy Griffin — lead plaintiffs for a cast of thousands — pays operators based upon “a predetermined amount of driving time.” Passengers and drivers alike are aware, however, that Muni’s schedules rarely match Muni’s reality. The operators claim they’re not being compensated for inevitable divergences from on-paper timetables.

This inevitability is baked in, claim the plaintiffs: Muni “has a practice of designing its routes in a manner that makes it impossible for Operators to stay on schedule.”

The drivers also claim they’re being shortchanged for the time they spend performing post-driving inspections; time spent traveling from one bus or train to another when switching runs; or time spent heading from the bus or train depot to wherever they parked their cars.

Drivers hoping to put in for unscheduled overtime face a new set of challenges. “The unscheduled overtime card is so confusing that [a Muni management] representative could not explain parts of it,” claims the suit. When asked, during deposition, why that card contained six rows, the manager replied, “I — honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.”…

Neither Muni nor plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Tidrick would comment regarding ongoinglitigation. Several of the hundreds of drivers who signed up to allow Tidrick to be their standard-bearer told SF Weekly the numbers they’re hearing bandied about constitute “real serious money.”… (more)