The RTD has met a preliminary target for reducing bus driver absenteeism, meaning it can avoid a threatened $12.8-million penalty, according to a new independent audit.
Instances of drivers failing to show up for work dropped 5.4% in the year ended Sept. 30--compared to a goal of 3.2%--at a savings of $1.8 million, according to the study by the national accounting firm of Price Waterhouse. The firm was hired by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which controls much of the RTD's funds.
Unscheduled absenteeism at RTD, which averaged 32 days per year for active-duty bus drivers in 1986 and cost nearly $20 million, has been a focal issue in recent criticism of the transit district. Price Waterhouse found that unscheduled absences among drivers have declined to an average of 29 days, but absences related to long-term leave rose about 3%. The overall drop in absenteeism was attributed to tougher RTD management policies, including at-home contact with absent workers.
Last year, the Transportation Commission and RTD agreed to a three-year program to reduce absenteeism, with financial penalties attached, should targets not be reached.