Strike limits Pr. George's buses
[This post has been updated]
More than 100 bus drivers went on strike Monday in Prince George's County, creating havoc for commuters who use the county's public bus system.
The county's Web site says that the
26 25 routes of TheBus are operating on a limited or no service basis.
Thomas "Tommy" Ratliff, president of Teamsters Local 639, Washington, D.C., said his members want better job security, improved health insurance, higher wages and changes in the disciplinary policy. The union has been in negotiations with Veolia Transportation, the contractor that operates TheBus for the county, since their contract expired June 30.
"There is no job security there," said Ratliff, who said drivers are routinely disciplined for what he considered to be minor infractions.
Ruth Otte, a spokewoman for Veolia Transporaton, said the company had "an inkling that [a strike] could happen," although the timing was uncertain.
Veolia Transportation, which operates buses in 120 cities across the country, has been providing service in Prince George's since 1999, Otte said.
She said the major dispute between the union and company officials is the disciplinary policy.
Otte said the company has "strong ethics" regarding safety standards.
"We're sincere about not compromising safety, but we're optimistic that we can solve this with the union," Otte said.
Susan Hubbard, a spokewoman for the county Department of Public Works and Transportation, said a county Web site with service information will be updated three times a day until the strike is settled. (Service information)
"We had no idea that this was going to happen," Hubbard said. "They have been in ongoing negotiations, but it kind of took us by surprise."
Jack Requa, Metro's assistant general manager of bus services, said the regional transit agency had received no request from Prince George's County for help in servicing the affected routes.
Here is the latest update from the county on how the strike is affecting service:
No service: Routes 11, 14, 15x, 21x, 22, 26, 27, 28.
Limited service: Routes 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 30, 32, 33, 34, 52, 53, UPS 1, UPS 2
As of 2 p.m. the county was reporting full service on Route 51.
-- Ovetta Wiggins and Ann Scott Tyson
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