Commentary: Absent Drivers Sending RT's Budget Off Track

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, April 1, 2005

In 2003, RT bus drivers and light rail operators racked up an astonishing 31 days of unscheduled absences on average. Think about it. That's more than six work weeks of no shows per driver per year. Mind you, these are absences over and above the paid holidays, family leave days, and 12 days of paid sick leave drivers get each year under their contract.

RT General Manger Beverly Scott has called the soaring absenteeism "inexcusable, ridiculous, an embarrassment." It is also expensive.

Bus drivers who don't come to work don't get paid. But the drivers who fill in for them receive overtime. Unscheduled absences cost the district $2.7 million dollars in 2003.

This year, RT officials say they've cut absenteeism by one third, to 21 days a year. That's still too high. The 2 million dollar cost is a quarter of the 8 million RT's proposed fare increase would generate in a year. So before asking riders to pay more, RT must do a better job of getting its drivers to come to work.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.