Can’t we avoid a bus strike?

The cooling-off period in the OCTA wage dispute ends tonight at midnight. People are telling me that a bus strike seems imminent. 

This issue is bigger than the 1,100 bus drivers that have not received wage and benefit increases to match projected living standards. This issue also affects the 220,000 passengers that rely on the transportation system. According to the Orange County Register, 77 percent of bus riders use our bus system four to seven days a week.

Union representatives and OCTA negotiators are meeting one final time today to see if a deal can be hammered out. Bus drivers are ready to walk out at midnight if a deal is not met.

A friend of mine that relies solely on the OCTA bus system told me this morning that he was ready to rent a car for a month or two, until things were settled. And I started to think a bus strike could seriously affect traffic in Orange County.

Assume that a quarter of the 220,000 bus riders get into a car instead of a bus. That’s 55,000 extra cars on the road.

I’m not surprised that 4 of our 5 County Supervisors are silent on this topic. But where is Supervisor Janet Nguyen? The constituents of the 1st District rely on OCTA’s services much more than other areas in the county and a strike will disturb the lives of many of us here in the 1st.

Not even a press release, Janet? Really?

  5 comments for “Can’t we avoid a bus strike?

  1. July 6, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Mike,

    Why are you picking on Janet? She has only been on the OCTA Board since March of this year. Campbell has been on the board since 2005. Most of the other Supes got on the board in January of this year.

    There are many other politicians on the board with a lot of experience, people like Mark Rosen, Curt Pringle, and Miguel Pulido. THEY need to step up.

    In the end however the decision to strike will be made by the union leaders and rank and file. We must implore them to please hold off on the strike and instead continue to negotiate in good faith.

    My wife works at the OCTA, in bus ops. She tells me all the time how hard the bus drivers work. They deserve a good contract. But the people who rely on them should not have to be inconvenienced.

    Now if the OCTA administrators and the Board are not negotiating in good faith, well then all bets are off.

    Honestly though, when was the last time ANY Of these Board members rode the bus? There are only TWO public members on the Board! That seems ridiculous to me. The Board ought to include more bus riders. You bet they would work harder to avoid a strike than the rich fat cats on that Board who might never have ridden a bus before…

  2. S. Greenhut
    July 7, 2007 at 11:19 am

    OC badly needs balancing transportation expenditures between freeways and transit. Bus strike is but a symptom of an agency that is anti-transit and ignorant of its ramifications. The impact of inadequate transit choice on demand for increasingly costly freeway expansion has been ignored in OCTA’s planning. If 91 express lanes are the agency cash cow, how motivated can agency be to expand capacity and relieve congestion? How can the Board deny a few millions in the bus drivers’ multi-year contract when freeway costs such as GG Fwy 22 and I-5 construction overrun budgets by hundreds of millions? Who will answer?

  3. Flowerszzz
    July 7, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Art – it would have been a great opportunity for Janet to do something good and get some good press. Instead she did nothing….no matter how new she may be to that board she is not ignorant of the board and what it does. This could still be a great opportunity for her but will she take it?

  4. KV
    July 7, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    What do these people think they are doing? How can they possibly let a strike happen when they have over 200,000 people who absolutely have no other alternative to get to work, school and the grocery store. What are they supposed to do? Loose their jobs because they can no longer get to them? Take their children out of school? Having ridden the bus system for many years, I can assure you that the vast majority of their “customers” have no other way to get anywhere. I just wonder how many OCTA staffers and drivers actually use the service. Instead of breaking off negotiations both sides should be working 24 hours a day every day to resolve this. But it seems both sides have but their interests above the passengers.

  5. July 8, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Psst….

    Use a Bicycle! Pass the word! ;-D

    Yes, many folks won’t have a way to get around, or a clue about alternatives, but at the same time there will ( I believe. ) be many who will get their bikes out, or buy a cheap bike, and put pedal to pavement for the duration.

    I’ve been a Bike Commuter for years, with a current 11 mile 1 way trip, so riding 22 miles a day, 6 days a week, won’t phase me one bit ( I know some folks who ride twice that because they want to, not because they have to. )

    There are already many low income people who Bike Commute:

    Hispanic workers, legal, and not, are on our roads, and sidewalks, day, and night, if you know where to look.

    Ever check out the places where the Day Laborers hang out, such as the NW corner of MacArthur & Harbor?

    Lots of bikes chained to poles, on any given day. ;-D

    I’m hoping to hear from Bus Riders who take to their bikes, and put out a call for such at my place. ;-D.

    Yes, Virginia, the OC has a BikeBlogger. ;-D

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