Metro: Bus drivers take cue from MTA managers

Outraged bus drivers will hold a pool tournament this afternoon outside MTA CEO Jay Walder’s Tribeca home in response to his complaint they play pool and pingpong on the clock. They say the MTA created the hated swing shifts that leave them idle for hours.

Typical day

6:30 a.m. Jaynelle Williams shows up to drive the B8 bus

10:17 a.m.: Off for four hours and 20 minutes

2:45 p.m.: Back behind the wheel for the afternoon rush hour

6:30 p.m. Finished for the day

“I’m literally held here at the depot,” B8 bus driver Jaynelle Williams said of his daily downtime.

Due to scheduling, 30 percent of city’s bus drivers have three-, four- and even five-hour blocks of time in the middle of their workdays. They can go home, but for drivers like Williams, who lives in the Bronx, it’s impossible.

“I watch TV, exercise, read. You’re bored,” he said.

“It’s tedious. You’re just idling, doing nothing,” said B35 driver Patrick Joly, who has a three-hour break in his workday. “Those extreme breaks are not something we look forward to.”

Swing shifts are the least desirable in the system, say drivers. To kill time they’ve put gyms in bus depots and bought pool and pingpong tables. “We’d rather have a one-hour lunch break and then go back and finish our work,” said bus driver Whitfield Gibson.

An MTA spokesperson said the swing shifts are an example of “outdated” work rules, and something the agency wants to change.

by Carly Baldwin Metro New York May 26, 2010