Monday was a holiday for most, but not the Port Authority. It operated regular weekday service, leaving some lonely riders wondering why.
According to authority spokesman Jim Ritchie, the contract with Local 85, Amalgamated Transit Union, allowed the union to decide whether to take the holiday on Sunday or Monday. It chose Sunday, and drivers who worked that day got double-time holiday pay.
Had the union designated Monday as the holiday, the authority would have operated on a stripped-down holiday schedule (virtually identical to Sunday service) on Monday as well. The bottom line would've been fewer drivers working over the two-day period, which might explain the union's decision. We tried but couldn't reach union president Patrick McMahon for his take on things.
According to Mr. Ritchie, 360 operators were on duty Sunday. On Monday, the full service meant 926 drivers on the job. With drivers grossing about $200 a day, running a full schedule cost the authority roughly $113,000 more in wages than the cost of holiday service. For an agency seeking state help to close a $47 million deficit, the added cost, while comparatively small, certainly can't help it win new friends and influence legislators.
Last time July 4 fell on Sunday, the authority operated holiday service on the Monday after. But the contract bargained in 2008 changed the rules and gave the union the choice, Mr. Ritchie said.
In 1998, July 4 fell on a Saturday and the Port Authority took some heat for running a holiday schedule on the day before the holiday.