Sarasota News Leader


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 12 of 112

Sarasota News Leader October 4, 2013 Page 13 CONCERNS ignore everything I say because [the county] would be covered by contractual turnover of Some of SCAT's drivers are worried about liabilities [to a vendor]." more than their future employment. "The operators are very anxious," Carter TIME AND CHANGES pointed out. "There are pros and cons to pri- Sarasota's bus system has seen some positive vatization, and one of the cons that operators changes recently, according to one of its top are concerned about is losing their benefits." officials. Bus drivers earn an average wage of $12.40 an In a Sept. 28 email to the county commissionhour, Carter said, and many cite the county's ers, Steve Zembala, SCAT operations manager, health insurance coverage, wellness program and enrollment in the Florida Retirement noted improvements since Carter took over System as major components of their com- as director a year ago. "Routes have not been closed down, there is regular communication pensation packages. of plans and goals within the organization "Operators work for the benefits," Carter said. and the facility has a fresh updated look," Bus drivers also fear the potential of a Zembala wrote in the email. decreased focus on safety and training, Carter Robinson told the News Leader that over the said, even though county officials would mainnext few months, she wants to hear what tain oversight of those areas — as required by federal guidelines — while the independent residents have to say about the merger and privatization and how they feel those changes contractor oversaw operations. would impact their local bus system. Carol Rutter, a county resident who spoke during the Public Comments portion of the Along with the potential cost savings, she said Sept. 17 joint meeting between the Sarasota she would give much weight to those comCounty Commission and Longboat Key Town ments. "That's important to me," Robinson Commission, also expressed concerns about added. safety. "The drivers for SCAT are just A-plus. The survey will be part of that public input. Of 152 drivers, all but one or two, are A-plus," Rutter said. "We need to take a look at the comprehensive The possibility of privatizing services could picture of everything; that includes the drivjeopardize the emphasis on safety and quality ers and safety," Robinson said. "There is a lot to consider." training, Rutter added. "SCAT would be at great risk for serious She also wants to make sure South County preventable accidents," Rutter told the two is included in future plans if the two transit commissions. "The county will probably systems do merge, she pointed out. %

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Sarasota News Leader - 10/04/2013