San Diego

As MTS strike nears the end of its fifth week, new proposal heads to bus drivers' union

Thousands of passengers have been impacted by the strike

Scroll for a list of routes affected

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Transdev, a contractor for the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), is slated to present on Friday a new contract proposal to bus drivers and the union representing them in an effort to cease the workers' strike.

The bus driver work stoppage is nearing the end of its fifth week as workers seek higher pay, improved working conditions, clean restrooms and better rest areas for when they take their breaks. Teamsters Local 683, which represents about 600 union members, has been negotiating with Transdev-owned First Transit in an effort to make their demands met.

The strike started in the South Bay the week of May 15 and, a few days later, impacted East County bus service routes as well. MTS Access and Minibus services -- paratransit services for those with limited mobility -- were also impacted, MTS said. Trolley routes and bus routes operating out of MTS' Kearny Mesa and Imperial Avenue divisions were not affected.

On Wednesday, the agency told NBC 7 the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement.

MTS said it is "aware of the inconveniences arising from this work stoppage and apologizes to riders for this disruption."

As part of MTS' latest proposal, it's offering $1 million to resolve the strike by next Friday. Those funds would be used to pay for Transdev drivers' demands.

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 the last decade so they think we are just going to take it, and we're not."

NBC 7's Jeanette Quezada spoke to striking MTS and Transdev employees.

Meanwhile, many who rely on the bus are struggling to get where they need to go, especially in the South Bay where MTS said on Tuesday less than 10% of their routes were covered.

Geocanda Martinez typically takes two buses and a trolley to get from San Ysidro to her monthly doctor's appointment in Chula Vista. Both routes were canceled Tuesday.

"It is frustrating because you’re sure you’re supposed to be at some time and a place and right now you don’t know. And what if you can’t call someone. I have to lose my appointment and I have to pay $25 for missing the appointment," Martinez said.

Luckily, she was able to call her grandson for a ride but others haven't been so lucky. 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.

What routes are affected by the MTS bus driver strike?

Copley Park Division (MTS Access and minibus service): Bus routes out of the Copley Park Division that could be impacted include: MTS Access, 14, 18, 25, 83, 84, 833, 838, 944, 945, 946, 964, 965, 985; Saturdays: 832, 833, 838, 945, 965; Sundays: 832, 833, 838.

South Bay Bus Division: Bus routes out of the South Bay division that could be impacted include: 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 Bus Division: East County bus routes that could be impacted include: 115, 928, 864, 852, 874, 855, 815. To verify in real time if there is service on your route please contact the MTS Information & Trip Planning Office at (619) 233-3004 between 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

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

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