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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Transit Deficits and Part-Time Labor: A Cure or Only a Band-Aid?


The connection between labor work-rules and transit deficits has received a great deal of recent attention. In particular, the use of part-time labor has been widely advocated as a possible solution to transit's financial problems. Alas, it is not so. 

This paper examines the potential savings from part-time labor and concludes that they cannot make a substantial reduction in the size of the transit deficit. Furthermore, and of greater importance, it seems possible that the contract concessions necessary to win the use of part-time labor will ultimately cost more than a simple continuation of current labor work-rules.

The paper also discusses the factors which have produced transit deficits. It is concluded that broad social forces outside the control of the transit industry are the major factors; hence it is unreasonable to expect the industry to solve the deficit problem.

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