Monday, March 12, 2012

Bus Strike In Phoenix

Friday at midnight, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 in Phoenix went on strike against Veolia Transportation Services. Veolia has a contract to run about 67% of the the bus routes in Phoenix. As of Saturday, only about 21% of all the bus routes were running.

Mine is not a multi-modal commute, so a bus strike doesn't affect me directly. It does affect all of us indirectly, because a lot of employers will have difficulty maintaining their level of service if their employees can't get to work, or get to work late.

The strike is not about wages and benefits, but about a contract negotiation Veolia is working on with the City of Phoenix. My understanding is that Veolia is trying to modify their contract to limit the amount of liquidated damages they would pay as a result of not meeting certain service obligations. The people who would pay for this modification would be the bus operators, since Veolia would, essentially, be able to shift blame to the operators in order to reduce the amount of damages they pay.

If this is true, then it is a great example of how unions work to fight abuses by big corporations by giving workers a unified, powerful voice they would otherwise not have.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Surprising A2B Metro

I've had the A2B Metro electric for a little over ten weeks, and have written the final review for Commute by Bike: Ten Weeks (and Counting) with an A2B Metro Electric Bike.

The bike has been great fun, and has been a surprisingly great bicycle. Although it is pretty heavy, the 7-speed derailleur makes it an adequate commuter. Add the electric boost and I've found the average speed on my commute to be slightly faster than my recumbent.

The maneuverability seems to be about as good as my Giant mountain bike. The bike has front and rear suspension, so the low-pressure, wide tires carry you over curbs and speed bumps very comfortably.

In the review for Commute by Bike, I mentioned the two Ultra Motor bags they sent down with the Metro. They are big, roomy bags which have spoiled me with the amount of stuff I can pack in them. So much so that I have purchased a larger pannier, the Vaude Egger Commuter.

The Vaude is slightly bigger than my regular leather briefcase. It has the Vaude QMR (Quick Mount Release) system with locking clips. You drop the top clips of the QMR system onto the top rails of your rear rack, snap the locking clips closed and the bag is securely attached to your rack. A handle directly above the clips is pulled to unlock the clips and the bag pops right off the rack. You then unfold a cover which is attached on one side of the back of the bag and run a zipper around the three sides to completely cover the QMR system. The Vaude then looks like an ordinary briefcase.

As soon as I've ridden with the Vaude Egger for a while, I'll ask Commute by Bike if they would like me to review it.