As The Tribune's Lee Davidson reported in July, the Utah Transit Authority paid out nearly $1 million in incentives and awards, mostly to its top executives, for hitting goals that critics say were too easy.
Lower-level administrative staff got a smaller share of the bonus pool. The group that received no bonuses is the one actually represented by a union.
The drivers, mechanics and parts people, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 382, did not get in on the bonuses allotted to the suits in the organization. And the part-time drivers now are having their pay cut.
But, hey, they have a different program to give them a little boost.
Drivers who operate buses, TRAX or Frontrunner trains for 1 million miles without an accident get a $500 bonus.
The drivers I talked to say it takes about 15 years to go get to 1 million miles on the job. That averages out to approximately $33 a year.
Of course, if they could hitch a ride once in a while with the UTA executives and state legislators jetting around the world to check out other mass transit systems, they might meet that one million mile goal a little sooner.
Who's the boss? • The jet travels of the UTA brass highlight another problem.
You've read The Tribune stories about the suits jetting off to Switzerland for a fact-finding trip on gondolas taking tourists up the mountains to the ski resorts. It's being touted as a great economic development tool that would be a game changer for Utah's tourism industry.
And UTA officials have suggested to legislators that keeping up with the latest technology in mass transit may require a boost in its share of the tax dollar in the future.
But the executive travel also is a reminder to the union and its drivers just where they fit in the food chain.
Because top managers are so often on the road, union representatives say they end up negotiating with second-tier management when coming to the bargaining table.
For example, when final negotiations for a contract were being hammered out a few years ago, UTA's top executives were in Belgium.
Rob Peter, pay Paul • While the top UTA brass enjoy their hundreds of thousands of dollars of bonuses, jet off with legislator buddies to exotic places with cool mass transit systems, and push for public investment for the latest technology, they are cutting services and stranding commuters.
Take the cuts on bus route 201, for example.
There no longer is bus service on State Street from 9800 South to 12300 South. That's to encourage folks to take the new Draper TRAX line. The plan ignores the needs of several people, however, like the group of women who take the bus to 10600 South because they work in various hotels off I-15 and 10600 South. These workers will have to walk from either the Sandy Civic Center TRAX stop on 9800 South or the new stop on 11400 South.
Then there is George Ammons and his fellow workers. Their work destination is on 11800 South and State Street. The closest stop for him will be the new Kimball's Lane station at 11796 S. 700 East. The current bus route 201 drops him right off by his work. The new TRAX stop is seven blocks east from State Street, and most of the streets doesn't have sidewalks.
When Ammons called UTA to complain, he says he was told to buy a car.