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Thoughts on Nassau County taking LI Bus private

 
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RailBus63
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:28 pm    Post subject: Thoughts on Nassau County taking LI Bus private Reply with quote

(A note up front - Iím starting this thread to discuss the possible logistical arguments of how Nassau County may attempt to take the Long Island Bus system private. This does not mean Iím in favor of this move or how I think Mangano will attempt to do this or that Iím anti-labor or cavalier about the hardships that MSBA employees will possibly face. This is just for discussion purposes).

First, I think itís evident why county executive Ed Mangano want to get out of the relationship with the MTA to operate the Nassau County bus system. A private firm will almost certainly pay operating employees lower wages and benefits and utilize fewer managers and supervisors to run the system. Some planning functions will need to be taken in-house by the county since the MTA will no longer be providing these, but this expense will be more than offset by the expected overall savings.

The next point is strictly my own speculation, but I also believe that Mangano is making this move to better position the county to fight the MTA payroll tax and other levies against county residents without fear of the MTA retaliating against local bus riders.

Now, the mechanics of this transition are much simpler than past efforts in other states because Nassau County in theory owns the rolling stock and depots. There may be a problem here, though. Section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act affords certain job protections to employees affected by actions which worsen their employment situation. The section was originally written with the idea in mind to protect workers whose jobs were replaced by automation, but it has become a powerful tool in laborís fight against privatization.

Nassau County will almost certainly attempt to use cases like Foothill Transit and Fairfax Connector as precedent. In both of these situations, the local government municipality was able to get around the 13(c) guidelines because they did not directly receive federal funding previously. This is also the case here, where the MTA was the ídesignated recipientí for federal transit funds disbursed for Nassau County transit improvements. In a case like this, I presume the MTA would remain responsible for pensions and other ongoing benefits for current MSBA employees.

The potential problem for Nassau County is twofold. First, how can Nassau County claim no responsibility for 13(c) protection (and more importantly, the expense of providing it) if they are keeping the vehicles and facilities? Both Foothill and Fairfax let the local transit agency keep their fleets and purchased new buses for startup. Second, if Nassau is successful in arguing this, can the MTA bring a counterargument to the FTA claiming that the MSBA buses are in fact the Authorityís property since they are going to bear the burden of paying for the labor protection? They could easily claim that they need to sell these buses to help pay this cost.

It will be interesting to see where this goes over the coming months. My gut feel is that both sides are sick of each other and desiring to end the relationship, but have cards still to play as they jockey for the most advantageous position. It will be fascinating to see how it plays out.

Jim
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frankie



Age: 71
Joined: 01 Feb 2011
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Location: St. Peters, Mo.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good discussion Jim - you've made some good points. It was about 38 years ago when MSBA took over the then individual private companies - should this become reality, then it looks like what goes around comes around.

I've often wondered why these private companies were consolidated into the MSBA in the first place. Was is a financial decision or were they forced into consolidation with little or no recourse? Had there been no MSBA, I would had loved to see how all of this would have played out to this very day. I would suspect it would had to be the survival of the fittest through years of buyouts of the smallest private companies. Just speculating!

Frankie
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RailBus63
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, the real Ďwhat ifí concerns what might have happened if local and state governments woken up 10 years sooner from the fiction that public transit needed to make money and began subsidizing these services at an earlier date. Would the same push to bring these operators under direct government control still have been there if more of those private transit companies had been healthy concerns?
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HwyHaulier




Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 932
Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RailBus63 wrote:
...Would the same push to bring these operators under direct government control still have been there if more of those private transit companies had been healthy concerns?...


RailBus63 -

And, so the implicit "what if" questions? That is: Under earlier systems of PSC/ PUC regulation, what if all had acted like adults,
and lived up to the mandates and responsibilities of the governing laws?. Regulation, as designed, had built in reasonable rates
of return for service providers. That was the law.

We went thru this nonsense where more and more weight for irrelevant testimony at "rate case" hearings. Whining, complaining,
sniveling and sad stories from self styled, rider public interest groups should not have been assigned any weight. All of it turned
into a "Dr. Phil" show, rather than a prescribed examination of prevalent rate levels. Perhaps sad stories should have been referred
to Licensed Clinical Social Workers? Relief should not have been at rate hearings...

At this point, it has created taxpayer supported monsters throughout the Nation. The wild card is the even larger jurisdictions which
may just issue a, "Shut It Down" order, so as to avert bankruptcy of the municipality or district. This has already happened in smaller
operations (and see the Union news reporting)...

.......................Vern.......................
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