Monday, November 15, 2004


And now, we present a brief lesson in how to run through a meeting in under 10 minutes, courtesy of SEPTA Board Chairman (and jack of all trades/master of none) Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. For starters, the meeting started nearly half an hour late due to an "executive session", where one could speculate that the budget mess was one of the topics. At 3:28pm, the meeting finally began, with Bucks County Commissioner and Board member Charles Martin not in attendance.

During the financial report, Treasurer Joe Casey noted that fuel costs for the first few months of the fiscal year jumped by nearly $445,000, which would appear to further compound SEPTA's woes. The higher fuel costs were blamed on the recent hurricanes that hit the Gulf of Mexico a couple of months ago (that's according to media reports, not Mr. Casey).

There was very little that stood out in this month's agenda, except for two major items that had been noted on the blog over the past year:

  1. SEPTA reached an agreement with UTU Local 61, which represents conductors and assistant conductors on the Regional Rail system. Negotiations with the union were at an impass, leading to the creation of Railway Labor Act Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 237. Among the highlights of the new contract, a revised progression rate was introduced, meaning that conductors would now require 10 years to reach the full rate of $23.7291 instead of the current 3 years; assistant conductors hired from this point forward (assuming no major layoffs as part of the Doomsday Plan) would be paid at a lower starting rate, but would still reach the top level after 3 years; a change in insurance plans, which would increase the co-pay for specialist visits from $5.00 to $15.00 and reduce co-insurance for out of network visits from 80 percent to 70 percent; during the first two years of the deal, a one-time 6 percent wage increase was implemented on November 7, with the third year seeing a one-time $1,000 bonus paid to all employees in lieu of a pay raise.
  2. Also, SEPTA will have a new advertising agency. Titan Outdoor LLC, a realatively new firm based in New York City, will take over the advertising for all of SEPTA's bus and rail vehicles from Viacom starting May 1, 2005. The new deal with Titan is expected to raise a minimum of $22.5 million in guaranteed revenues over the first three years of the deal, and features 2 three-year options. Earlier this year, SEPTA had attempted to extend its current deal with Viacom, however that deal was rejected by the FTA. In June, Titan took over the advertising services contract from New Jersey Transit, which was also held by Viacom and it's predecessor, TDI.

Other than those two deals, there were no major items that stood out on the October agenda.

There was a moment of almost unintentional comedy when Don Pasquale called for speakers on non-agenda items and saw none. At that point, he immediately asked "Where's Don?", a reference to DVARP President Don Nigro, who was not in attendance (presumably because this was a very boring month for the agenda). After the "non-report" report of Shyster-in-Chief Nick Staffieri, Fearless Leader reminded everyone about the November 10 rally at Harrisburg, then recognized SEPTA's representatives to the recently held APTA Roadeo in Atlanta - Southern bus operator John Rinylo and the Midvale maintenance team of Dave Allmond, Phil Carey, and Mike Westerfer.

Following the dog-and-pony show (and don't get me wrong, the APTA Roadeo team deserved to be recongized), the meeting ended at 3:37pm.

And that, ladies and gentlement, is how to run an 8 minute meeting...

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