Tri-met Transit Terms Tuesday. “Doubling Back, Tri-met's little ugly Troll"

Ok groovy Transit Tribbles it’s time for another Trimet Transit Terms Tuesday, the day I hip you to the terms, lingo, ideas and words used by bus wranglers and train hangers. The only question now is, “are you ready for this!” 

Today we are going to bespeak that most evil and hated words “Doubling Back” There was a time, a time years ago when the word doubling back was just another word at Tri-met like water or rider. 

Then came an accident an accident that caused death. 

After many decades of never being a subject of interest all of a sudden the media blew up like a nuclear bomb. Now with all the hype of dead bodies behind it, the media became self elected experts on transit safety and who was there favorite whipping boy? It was Doubling Back. 

If you believed the press doubling back was a tool forced on Tri-met by union thugs who broke in at gun point… Before we tell you that story lets talk a bit about what doubling back is. 

You see when you are a bus driver you work shifts.

  • AM shifts
  • Midday shifts
  • PM shifts

So what happens if you work a late shift, say a late PM shit and found out you had an early AM shift the next morning? If it was within 8 hours you could do one of two things. 

1. Pass up, that means someone else would do your AM slot and you would show up later to work, or double back, that means you would show up and do that AM slot.

2. Doubling Back, is just showing up to do an AM shift after you work a PM shift. So if I got off at 2 AM I could come back at 8 AM and do that shift as well. 

The press went shitbird crazy over this. The idea of bus drivers driving on only 6 hours of sleep! 

Did this have anything to do with the accident that cost lives? nope, not a factor at all but a witch hunt is a witch hunt and you better not ever stand up against a witch hunt unless you want to be crucified and burned. 

Sensing a political hot potato Tri-met rolled over and jumped aboard the reform band wagon as if they had nothing to do with things like doubling back, like they didn’t benefit from it at all. 

They never mentioned that doubling back was not only allowed, it was encouraged by them so they could have enough drivers. That was there game, butts in seats. Oh but don’t mention that on the Reform Wagon. 

Some simple math may have saved the great transit worker freakout in the media. the media who was sure that every driver was doubling back or working 100 hours a week.

Not all drivers doubled back, Not even a majority, not even a minority, In fact it was just a few. Most just passed up the runs when they did not get enough sleep. Those drivers that did double back, usually planned around it. It was not unusual for them to be sleeping in their cars or staying at friends houses that were close to the garage. So if they only got 6 hours off most of that was sleeping. While if I had 8 hours off after commuting, coming home, fixing dinner a few chores I was lucky to get 6 hours of sleep as well. 

Driver adaptation didn’t matter, the Crusade Rolled on and the Double Back was shot with a silver bullet. 

What was strange you could still work two 8 hour slots. You just could not work them over an evening. So I could work an AM slot and come back and work a PM slot. That’s 16 hours of work but I could not work a PM slot and an AM slot… now that was doubling back!  It’s the same amount of time what is assumed is that we all sleep at the same time. Back when people doubled back they adjusted their sleep to accommodate the shift, If you sleep 8 hours after or 8 hours before a run it still sleep. So one way is ok and the other is forbidden. 

Doubling back was never something I could do because it did not fit my schedule . I could not get in the flow to do it but some drivers did it all the time. Good for them I always thought. Again it was more a matter of life style. 

Now back to the popular media story, Tri-met made it sound like overtime working and Doubling back was forced on them at gunpoint by Union thugs. That it was a crime perpetrated by drivers against a poor defenseless transit company. The truth is Tri-met loved it. They needed overtime because they were chronically short on drivers, without overtime and doubling back runs would have been canceled in the thousands of hours. 

So Doubling back came to an end. The gap between runs was made 10 hours for normal drivers and 9 Hours for us drive-a-holic extra board drivers. Tri-met then went on a 5 years hiring binge, a hiring binge that is still rolling along to this day and will be going until 2017. that should tell you just how much over time and extra work there was back then. Doubling back has now been relegated to the transit graveyard along side Owl Service and Transit Zones. 

Or has it? 

Is there not a time when Doubling back rises from the grave? Like a zombie in the walking dead every time there is a transit emergency the “Safety” restrictions are lifted. That’s right in snow and ice and volcanic eruption or in case of a Trump victory in the election our transit agency lifts all these “Safety” limitations. You can work unlimited hours again, you can even… dare I say it, DOUBLE BACK! Thats right when driving is at it’s worse, doubling back rises from the grave and once again walks the bull pens of Trimet for both rail and bus. By the way if you ever seen someone at the end of doubling back you will understand the zombie reference. 

So there you go, Bus Hoppers and Train Stoppers, now you know the truth, the story and three zone pass of it. 

I would like to say more but I have run out of time. 

“Hail to the bus driver, bus driver, bus driver, Hail to the bus driver the bus driver man” 

Roll Easy lemon Squeezey.