It's perfectly normal for many bus drivers in the city of Montreal to work long hours during the week to accommodate heavy traffic during the summer. However, some drivers are working an "excessive amount" of overtime hours, according to a report from the Journal de Montreal.
Because of the number of hours worked, some STM employees are doubling their salaries with bonuses and overtime pay. According to Glassdoor, an STM bus driver makes roughly $28/hour or $70,000/per year. That's not including bonuses, profit sharing, and stock options.
Most importantly, some drivers are constantly working in a state of "dangerous fatigue," where some work nearly 80 hours per week.
Apparently, some bus drivers have been spotted sleeping at the STM garage for a few hours at night before setting off for a day's work. The STM points out that overtime hours aren't a forced obligation.
Since all overtime is done on a voluntary basis, it's up to the drivers to manage their overtime hours. Only the most established and tenured bus drivers get the privilege of having priority to select their hours.
According to findings from the Journal de Montreal, older drivers tend to abuse the system more often and tend to work the most overtime. Keep in mind that it's up to union members to manage who abuses the system — something that isn't likely to happen according to François Pépin, president of Trajectoire Quebec.
Buses are exempt from Quebec's Highway Saftey Code, which requires commercial drivers to rest 8 hours for every 14 hours of work. STM drivers have recorded 20 hour days, according to the report.
Though buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road, with 16 times more accidents caused by cars per year, experts worry that dangerously fatigued bus drivers are an accident waiting to happen.
As drivers continue to work exorbitant overtime hours, people have suggested that the government step in to help regulate the number of overtime hours worked.
This probably wouldn't be a good idea, as the bus union in Montreal is a powerful force and is prone to going on lengthy strikes.
As passengers, we have to trust that our bus drivers are well-rested and will bring us to our destination safely. The findings of this report are troubling, however, and the STM would do well to investigate the issue.
For more information, please read the report from Journal de Montreal.