Bus drivers articulate their joy

first_imgThey often rise before dawn and go to sleep before sunset, dealing all day with Angelenos’ worst nightmare: nothing but driving. The men and women who will navigate the Orange Line spend their lives on the move. All through the night, through each rainstorm, each negligent driver, each 105-degree scorching day, they sit behind the wheel. They get up at odd hours and drive long distances just to spend more time driving. To pilot its new fleet of 30 Metro Liner trailer buses, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will rely on its most seasoned personnel. Drivers from all over the agency bid for a shot at the $633,000 machines, considered a plum assignment in one of the most desirable areas. The 150 operators who made the cut then underwent even more rigorous training, spending time in the classroom, then at the helm of the 57-passenger behemoths. They are the tops in their profession. They’ve spent their entire careers working odd hours and enduring a grinding, stressful job so they now have a chance to be part of history. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week For Robert Higbee, a 33-year pro who works a 5 a.m.-to-2 p.m. shift every weekday, missing the end of the Lakers game each night and skipping breakfast each morning has just become part of life. And he loves it. “It’s up in the morning, into whatever uniform I can get into,” he said, detailing a day that begins with a 4 a.m. commute from Thousand Oaks. “I pour my own coffee into a Thermos, then go … grab your key, get in the bus and you’re ready to go. I’m headed for the Orange Line in a brand new 60-foot bus, so I’m feeling better than a lot of those guys who’re in the old, clapped-out buses.” The 56-year-old Higbee, who started driving buses before the MTA even existed, has always been drawn to scenic routes. He drove the 161 route to Thousand Oaks, the Malibu run, the Balboa line up to Sylmar where some streets still don’t have sidewalks. He calls the Orange Line “a jewel in a metropolitan jungle.” He had quite a bit of competition for the chance to cruise that jewel. Bidding for the job, awarded to the most senior drivers, was intense for a chance to get onto the unusual new line. Not only were operators eager to get a chance to play with the articulated machines that look like the Jetsons’ idea of an armored dinosaur, they relish the chance to drive on a dedicated busway unhampered by other drivers who cut in front of them or try to squeeze in between the huge vehicles and their bus stops. “There was a lot of clamoring to be one of the first,” said Gary Spivack, an MTA division transportation manager. “Most of the operators are senior operators with 10 years of service or more. They’re in love with the vehicles.” North American Bus Industries of Anniston, Ala., built the three-door mammoths especially for the Orange Line, with 170 more on the way for use in Rapid lines throughout the MTA system. They’re pushed by a six-cylinder, 8.9-liter Cummins compressed natural gas engine. Though the engine generates only 320 horsepower, less than a Chevy Suburban, that’s still 25 percent more than a standard bus engine. And with all fares handled at the station, rather than aboard, drivers now have one less thing to distract them from the road. For a bus driver, this is pretty close to nirvana. “It’s easy, just like pulling a trailer,” said Gerardo Perez, who’ll make the 11 a.m.-to-8:15 p.m. run Sundays through Thursdays. “You feel a little nervous, the first time you get on, but in a couple streets, it’s like second nature.” At 40 years old, he’s put in nearly 17 years of service with the MTA. He used to run the Red Line trains, so he’s used to handling big vehicles. Perez lives near remote Frasier Park; the trip takes him an hour and 20 minutes each way to work every day. After spending all day cruising city streets and dealing with traffic, he says he needs the fresh air and nature to get away. Before he gets into a vehicle each morning, he runs five or six miles. And after he finishes that morning workout and long commute in, he’ll be passing Shakana Contreras, who’s working 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. from Wednesday to Sunday. She’s a rarity on the Orange Line, with just five years with the agency. At 28 years old, the Palmdale resident wasn’t even born when guys like Higbee pulled their first assignment. Contreras, who lays out her uniform before her 6 p.m. bedtime the day before, then starts her commute at 1 a.m., relishes the opportunity to try out the new hot rod mostly reserved for senior drivers. She traded a clerical job in a windowless office in a Target store for one that lets her see the sun rise five days a week. Impressed by the Metro Liner’s bulk at first, now she slides easily behind the controls. “It feels like driving a big rig – you just don’t have that little thing you pull for the horn,” she said, laughing. “It’s our brand new toy in the yard. Everyone wants to test it out.” Before she got posted to the new line, she did just about every route in the West Valley. Now, she knows she’s part of something different, something historic. “It feels pretty good,” she said. “They want people out there who’ll be cautious and careful. I’m glad to be a part of it.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 brent.hopkins@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

A’s offense muscles up to support Kendall Graveman against Yankees

first_imgNEW YORK — Kendall Graveman returned from the minors with a refined delivery and arsenal of pitches. It wasn’t pretty, but the A’s got what they wanted out of him.Graveman did not use the changeup, the pitch he was working on adding to his repertoire, all that often Friday night, but his heavy dosage of cutters and sinkers kept the Yankees to three hits over six innings of work in Friday’s 10-5 victory to snap a three-game losing streak.Going back to check the statistics on his cutter during …last_img

Why do the Warriors thrive more on the road than at home?

first_imgKlay Thompson subscribes. You can too for just 11 cents a day for 11 months + receive a free Warriors Championship book. Sign me up!HOUSTON – At this point, Warriors coach Steve Kerr can only offer so many motivational speeches. He can hold only so many in-depth film sessions.With the Warriors winning three NBA championships in the past four years, Kerr recognizes those tactics to improve the team’s consistency often yield diminishing returns. Thankfully for the Warriors (41-27), they enter …last_img

U.S. pork industry ends 2018 with major antibiotic progress

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest America’s 60,000 pig farmers and their veterinarians are ending 2018 with recognition of their diligence to use medically important antibiotics in a strictly responsible way. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s newly published Annual Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals cites 2017 data that shows a 33% decline in this most critical class of antibiotics intended for use in food animals. When added to the decline found in the 2016 data, it confirms a reduction of 43% in this class of antibiotics from the 2015 level.“This report is another indicator of the hard work that my fellow pig farmers have been doing to reduce the need for antibiotics. We continue to work closely with our veterinarians to ensure that we use antibiotics responsibly and according to FDA-approved labels,” said Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board President a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “We’re committed to using antibiotics in a strategic way that focuses on animal health and well-being, as well as to protecting overall public health.”Veterinarian Dave Pyburn, senior vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board, says that while the new report is not a perfect estimate of antibiotic use at the farm level, it clearly shows a downward trend in antibiotic use intended for food animals. He also notes that this latest data reflects what happened after the pork industry’s successful implementation in January 2017 of the Veterinary Feed Directive, which banned the use of medically important antibiotics for growth-promotion use.“It was a relatively smooth transition after the Veterinary Feed Directives went into effect,” Pyburn said. “Thanks to well-planned and well-executed education programs implemented by the pork industry long before that date, producers, veterinarians and allied industry personnel were prepared to modify their procedures. This was a clear example of how the pork industry adapts to do their part in protecting antibiotics for human and animal health. It’s simply the right thing to do.”The FDA report shows that the overall usage of antibiotics in livestock is the lowest since the report began in 2009. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics reports, America’s pig farmers produced over 121 million market hogs in 2017 at an average weight of 282 pounds. This is an increase of 16 pounds per pig since 2009, when production stood at roughly 113 million market hogs. Comparing these figures indicates that today’s pig farmers are using far less antibiotics per pound of pork produced than ever before.“When viewing this data with a scientific lens, I clearly see that America’s pig farmers are on the right track in their antibiotic stewardship,” said Heather Fowler, a public health veterinarian and director of producer and public health with the National Pork Board. “The industry is not complacent either. We’re proud of our ongoing collaboration with some of the best researchers in the world develop antibiotic on-farm metrics. We are working with diverse stakeholders to continually improve antibiotic stewardship for the health of people, pigs and the planet.”As an example of this cooperative approach to antibiotic stewardship, the National Pork Board, along with the National Pork Producers Council, recently announced a partnership with the Farm Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and many others to introduce a comprehensive framework to strengthen antibiotic stewardship to protect animal and public health. The stakeholders agree that the use of medically important antibiotics in all settings, from human health care to livestock production, must be carefully managed to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and preserve the effectiveness of vital drugs. The framework defines effective stewardship, outlines its core components and describes essential characteristics of effective stewardship programs, including key performance measures.In addition to the two pork groups, organizations that agree with the framework include: Elanco Animal Health, Hormel Foods, Jennie-O Turkey Store, McDonald’s Corporation, National Milk Producers Federation, National Turkey Federation, Smithfield Foods, Inc., Tyson Foods, Walmart Inc. and Zoetis.“There is a broad consensus across the food animal industry that we must continue to drive and demonstrate antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture,” said Joe Swedberg, chairman of the board of Farm Foundation. “This framework is about stakeholders coming together to do the right thing and to communicate their commitment to antibiotic stewardship with a transparent and meaningful approach.”The 15 core components of the antibiotic stewardship framework are based on the importance of veterinary guidance and partnership, disease prevention strategies and optimal treatment approaches, as well as effective record keeping and a culture of continuous improvement and commitment to antibiotic stewardship. The components address education, implementation and evaluation steps for phasing in stewardship programs. The framework’s guiding principles are intended to help ensure that stewardship programs have a clear scientific basis, are transparent, minimize the risk of unintended consequences, encourage alternatives to antibiotics and focus on long-term sustainability.Rommereim says the Pork Checkoff is on their right path forward to make additional progress on antibiotic stewardship.“We will make continuous improvement in antibiotic stewardship through additional Checkoff-funded antibiotic research and collaboration with those who share our objectives to protect animal and public health,” Rommereim said. “We can make the U.S. pork industry even more sustainable into the future.”last_img read more

Sportzware Central v7 Release

first_imgSportingPulse is pleased to announce that the latest release of Sportzware Central (version 7.0) will be made available from Wednesday, 28 January 2009. SWC v7 includes a number of exciting developments, full details of which are provided in the attached document.As a part of our communications process, we are providing National Governing Bodies with prior notice of the release of SWC v7 before notifying leagues and associations on Wednesday January 28 and giving them their new registration key.We trust this communication enables you to assist us in continuing to provide award-winning software throughout your sport and sharing in the advantages and benefits of keeping all leagues and associations at the forefront of online technology.last_img