Bus lines, hard lines and bloody lines in the sand

Expanded from the 8-18-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

The union-busting Citifare bus system is not safe. Yesterday at, I broke the story of an unfortunate cyclist who was hit by a replacement bus driver and transported in serious condition to Washoe Medical Center's intensive care unit.

Apparently, the driver in question didn't even know what he'd done and drove away. By the time you read this, I should have additional information on the accident from Sparks PD, especially as to whether or not the errant operator was cited. Watch the website for 24-hour a day bulletins from the street.

The crash occurred at the pentagonal intersection of Prater Way and El Rancho Drive in Sparks, one of the most cluttered and confusing in the region.

The driver, Heinz Schoner, operating on busy Route 11, left the scene. According to reports, another driver saw what had happened, stopped to render aid to the cyclist and called Sparks Police.

The bicyclist, Lawrence Anderson, about 45 years of age, was transported to Washoe Medical Center, according to Sparks police. A hospital spokesman told me that Mr. Anderson was listed in serious condition in the hospital's intensive care unit. Sparks PD says the accident happened at 7:31 a.m PDT.

Mr. Schoner, the driver of the bus involved, is an employee of the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County who is not a regular driver. He is neither an employee of Transit Management of Washoe nor a member of Teamsters Union Local 533.

The accident is eerily similar to a June incident in Las Vegas. During that six-week strike, a replacement driver from Texas struck and seriously injured a pedestrian. The victim was transported to a hospital in critical condition with serious head injuries. The bus management company refused to admit that the driver was a strikebreaker imported from Texas. The driver was cited.

The Citifare bus system has been operating at weekend service levels since more than 100 drivers, dispatchers and support workers went on strike Aug. 4. They offered to return to work on Aug. 9, but were locked out by Transit Management of Washoe County, the British-owned company which manages the system. TMW is operating the buses with about 50 strikebreakers brought in from out of town and about a dozen non-union drivers.

This has got to stop. Only intervention by the five elected members of the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County can end the management company's lockout of its experienced drivers and return the award-winning system to efficiency and safety.

The commission meets this Friday at 9:00 a.m. at the RTC Center under U.S. 395 South between Plumb Lane Villanova in Reno. Be there to voice your opinion. I'll show up, but the locked-out drivers probably can't attend to make their voices heard. Thanks to a bogus court injunction issued by Washoe District Judge Peter Breen, the workers can't get into the building. Isn't there something called the Nevada Open Meeting Law that says citizens have a right to speak at public meetings?

Stay tuned to this newspaper and for more on that one. You may see brave workers risking arrest to take their plight to the top. Lives and livelihoods — both of employees and workers throughout the region who depend on the system — depend on it.

Please call, write or e-mail the elected members of the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County and ask them to intervene in the lockout of Citifare workers.

Sparks City Councilman John Mayer, senior member of the RTC.
Reno City Councilman Dave Rigdon
Reno City Councilman Dave Aiazzi
Washoe County Commissioner Jim Shaw, current RTC Chairman
Washoe County Commissioner Ted Short

This may reach all of them, so give it a try: "Directors" <>

You may write the commissioners care of RTC at P.O. Box 30002, Reno, NV 89520.

You may call them at (775) 348-0400 or fax them at (775) 348-3220.

Only Commissioner Aiazzi has demonstrated any sympathy for the workers.

He told me that, in his opinion, TMW transit manager "Mike Steele should have come to the commission and said we are at an impasse — What would you like to do, stay at impasse or give me more money to bargain with?"

He tried to lobby his fellow board members to call a special meeting, but none would help. This is especially surprising conduct from Sparks Councilman Mayer, who comes from generations of a Sparks railroad union family and has long advocated blowing out the expensive ($27,019 per month for three executives) management company.

The managers starve their workers in search of annual bonuses for the three executives. Workers employed directly by the Regional Transportation Commission fare much better. A longtime receptionist makes thousands a year more than the most senior bus operator. That's like paying the plane washer more than the pilot.

This has got to stop. Lives are on the line.

Only you, the citizens who subsidize the bus system with your taxes, can make it happen.

Get to work.

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© 2002 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 33-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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