South Bay bus routes canceled until negotiations between drivers, contractor are complete
Hundreds of transit riders faced service disruption because of a work stoppage due to ongoing negotiations between the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) South Bay Bus Division and Transdev, the company contracted to run 65% of all San Diego routes.
The stoppage could not have come at a worse time for San Ysidro resident Raymundo Carlos, who was at the Palomar Transit Station on Wednesday.
“I was actually going for a job interview, so I was on my way, hoping to get a job so I don’t have to rely too much on the bus systems and whatnot,” Carlos said.
He just moved to the area and relies on public transportation to get around. He said the disruption in bus service was a little discouraging.
"It makes me feel like a little defeated, but life always throws down some punches, unexpected things that you just got to roll through the punches,” Carlos said.
Paola Gonzalez also relies on public transit because she does not know how to drive.
“Transit is very important because it takes us from point A to point B," she said. "So, them being on strike also affects us.”
San Ysidro resident Ricardo Contreras said he saw a lot of elderly and school students really confused at the bus station Wednesday morning.
“They take the trolley and then they have to take the bus route wherever they have to go, and MTS really dropped the ball by not coming out and advise these people,” he said.
MTS sent an advisory via Facebook, Twitter and a news release on Wednesday, saying approximately 33% of MTS bus routes were not running while negotiations continue between Transdev and Teamsters Local 683, the union representing the drivers.
Some drivers were picketing outside MTS' Chula Vista facility on Wednesday.
“We’re here on a ULP strike. That’s unfair labor practice, and that refers to the company’s behavior and bad faith negotiations and unreasonable working conditions that has practiced over the past decade,” said Jose Puga, a business agent with Teamsters.
Negotiations between Transdev and the union started in October 2022. More than 600 drivers are currently affected.
“This is something that they’re known to do as far as underbidding and then turning around and trying to make money and profit off of labor contracts to the point where strikes happen and they blame the union,” Puga said.
Transdev declined an interview but sent a statement saying:
“Transdev is actively negotiating with the Teamsters 683 and remains hopeful that we will come to an amicable resolution soon with minimal disruption to the riding public. We have been engaged in negotiations with the union in good faith, with the goal of reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement that addresses the interests of both parties. During this period, we remain dedicated to ensuring the continuity of our operations and minimizing any impact on our valued customers. We have contingency plans in place to mitigate disruptions and to provide ongoing support to our clients. We have made good faith financial concessions, in addition to other important economic concessions and remain open to continued dialogue. We look forward to continuing respectful and productive discussions to find a resolution that meets the needs of our employees and aligns with the long-term sustainability of our business.”
The Teamsters predict the strike will go on for about 20 days.