Even without major concessions from unions, MTA officials say they have been able to reduce the agency's bus operating cost by almost $10 an hour in recent years, in part due to lower maintenance expenses as new buses replace the older fleet.
The MTA's budget for the current fiscal year contains a detailed breakdown of elements that contribute to the hourly cost of operating a bus. The overall cost of service operated directly by MTA employees is pegged at $100.15 for every hour a bus is in revenue service--carrying passengers.
The MTA also contracts with private firms to run buses on less heavily used lines at a significantly lower cost of $54.68 per hour.
When the lower-cost contract service is included, the overall cost of MTA bus service drops to the $98.66 figure cited in news conferences and official statements. MTA Chief Executive Julian Burke has said his goal in the negotiations with the drivers, mechanics and clerks union is to cut $2 an hour from that figure.
Union leaders balk at the agency asking members to give up overtime and accept work rule changes as the price tag for a contract.
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At $98.66 an hour, the MTA's cost of operating a bus exceeds that of any other transit operator in SouthernCalifornia. The agency says that 70% of the hourlycost is for labor and benefits. But an examination of the MTA's budget found hourly expenses as listed below.
United Transportation Union employees: $39.45
Direct operations: $5.03
Transit security: $4.13
Amalgamated Transit Union/service attendants: $2.85
Graffiti removal/cleaning: $1.65
Wheelchair lifts: $0.36
Note: The MTA's overall hourly cost to operate a busis lower than the total shown above because the MTA contracts with a less-expensive private firm to operate some service on low-ridership lines.
Top Pay for Drivers
Highest hourly wages for experienced bus drivers inmajor urban areas across the country:
Washington, D.C.: $22.10
Santa Clara County: $21.51
New York City: $21.36
San Francisco: $21.26
Los Angeles MTA: $20.72
Source: Los Angeles Times survey of transit operators