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NONUNION HIRING EYED FOR VALLEY BUSWAY.

Byline: Lisa Mascaro Staff Writer

An MTA board member has suggested hiring nonunion bus drivers and mechanics to operate the Orange Line busway to save up to $2 million annually.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member John Fasana said the agency could shave up to one-third off the $6 million-a-year cost by contracting with a private firm.

``If we're looking at the need to contain costs, this is something we can do,'' said Fasana, a Duarte City Council member. ``This is a way to stretch out those dollars.''

With Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn and county Supervisor Gloria Molina dissenting, the MTA board asked last week for a cost comparison of union and nonunion workers.

The MTA hires outside contractors to run a handful of other routes, and the cost is about two-thirds the price for union bus drivers and mechanics.

The United Transportation Union, which represents the MTA's 4,500 bus and train drivers, said service provided by private contractors doesn't always measure up.

``You are sending a message to the citizens of the San Fernando Valley,'' UTU consultant Goldy Norton told the board. ``They have waited 20 years for this service and dutifully paid their taxes. The MTA considers they are not worthy of service comparable to the service MTA provides.''

Transit advocates also said the Orange Line - the first of its kind in Los Angeles - should be operated with seasoned drivers.

``This is a crown jewel,'' said transit advocate Kymberleigh Richards, who serves on the MTA's Valley Governance Council.

``I want this to have the best possible chance of success. Saving the money between contract and noncontract on a project of this magnitude may not be worth it.''

Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761

lisa.mascaro(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Words:290
Previous Article:VILLARAIGOSA SAYS HAHN IS HOLDING BACK REFORM.
Next Article:LAWSUIT DROPPED ON ORANGE LINE.


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