San Diego

MTS Bus Driver Strike Disrupts Service in East County, South Bay

Thousands of passengers have been impacted by the strike

NBC Universal, Inc.

A bus driver strike was disrupting Metropolitan Transit System bus service routes in the South Bay and in East San Diego County this week and it was not clear how long the work stoppage would last.

The strike in the South Bay was affecting 30% of MTS bus routes on Wednesday. On Thursday, MTS said East County routes were being impacted too. By Friday, South Bay bus drivers took their protest to San Diego transit station, although the strike did not include bus drivers from that area and San Diego routes were not believed to be impacted.

Bus drivers with Teamsters Local 683, which represents about 600 union members, have been picketing at the MTS Otay Mesa Bus Depot and say negotiations with contractor Transdev have stalled. They're asking for better working conditions and higher wages.

NBC 7's Dave Summers spoke to riders who rely on impacted MTS bus routes.

Driver Francisco Covarrunias told NBC 7 he's been working 13 hours per day, six days per week. Among their biggest wants, according to Covarrubias, are clean and safer break areas. Covarrubias said drivers don't feel safe taking their meal breaks at stops like Iris Avenue Transit Center, and said restrooms at transit centers aren't cleaned regularly and are covered in graffiti.

"We shouldn't be negotiating restroom and meal break areas in the labor agreement," Jose Puga with Teamsters Local 683 said. "That's something that every employer has to have for their employees here in California but it seems that this company and MTS, they've been doing it for teh last decade so they think we are just going to take it, and we're not."

More employees are planning to demonstrate at the 12th and Imperial Avenue Transit Center on Friday, according to Puga, adding that at this point drivers from the 12th and Imperial Transit Center are not joining the strike.

Transdev said in a written statement to NBC 7 they are still working toward a compromise with Teamsters 683 and aim to continue bus operations with as minimal impact as possible.

More than 30 MTS routes in the South Bay have been canceled amid a strike by bus operators. NBC 7’s Nicole Gomez has more information.

"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 statement read, in part.

MTS estimates that thousands of passengers have been impacted by the strike. The agency said South Bay passengers should check MTS alerts and their detour page online for the latest information on their routes.

The following routes are affected:
South Bay: 1, 3, 5, 27, 28, 35, 225, 701, 704, 705, 709, 712, 901, 904, 905, 906, 907, 909, 916, 917, 923, 929, 932, 933, 934, 950/950A, 955, 961, 962, 963, 967, 968, 992.

East County: 88, 115, 280, 290, 815, 816, 832, 834, 848, 851, 852, 854, 855, 856, 864, 872, 874, 875, 888, 891, 892, 894, 921, 928, 936

Riders can also check the MTS Alerts & Detours webpage for the latest route updates, or call (619) 233-3004.

MTS says minibus services and paratransit services is not currently affected.

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