Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When Passengers Spit, Bus Drivers Take Months Off (May 24th, 2010)

New York Times article "When Passengers Spit, Bus Drivers Take Months Off" (May 24th, 2010) offers a foolish quote with no rebuttal. The article deals with the reaction Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus drivers take to being spit upon. The article notes that of the 51 spat-upon drivers last year, each driver took an average of 64 days off work. It quotes a union official offering the typical refrain that incentives don't matter:

'Being spat upon — having a passenger spit in your face, spit in your mouth, spit in your eye — is a physically and psychologically traumatic experience,' said John Samuelsen, the union’s president. 'If transit workers are assaulted, they are going to take off whatever amount of time they are going to take off to recuperate.'

Corrections believes that incentives matter, and that the union president's quote is ludicrous and deeply un-economic. John Samuelsen is deeply wrong. We would add, to our two other predictions (1) and (2), a third: bus driver leave-taking is not completely inelastic. We predict that drivers would take fewer days if it cost them to do so. If we find data, we will make a note of it.

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