San Diego Residents With Disabilities Left Without Rides as MTS Workers' Strike Continues

Of more than 70 paratransit bus drivers for MTS, only 4 of them showed up to work Monday morning

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Transdev, a multinational conglomerate which operates MTS's public transport services, is in contract negotiations with its bus operators, represented by the Teamsters.

At 3 a.m. Monday, Teamsters Local 542 drivers, mechanics, utility workers and reservationists from Transdev in Copley Park Place, walked out on a unfair labor practices strike.

These workers include paratransit drivers who service passengers with disabilities and are unable to use the regular MTS route.

Margarita Elizondo is one of these riders and she's already feeling the void. The strike canceled her plans at San Diego State University Monday morning.

“I needed to take a test and I wasn't able to make it today because MTS was canceled," Elizondo said. "So, I need to reschedule that.”

She knew the strike was coming and she supports it, but said she also realizes the stress toll this will take.

“Some people honestly don't have a plan B, and I know people I've met, people I talk to, people who don't have the family support or resources for a plan B, will be stuck at home needing medical attention and not getting it," Elizondo said. "So, we're suffering. We're suffering. And it's not fair.”

Over at the Copley Park division, there are more than 70 paratransit drivers. This morning, only four of them crossed the picket line and went into work. They told NBC 7 in situations like these, no one wins.

Steven Flores is a paratransit driver who works with people like Margarita every day.

Flores is only getting a fraction of his pay while he protests and said he didn’t want things to come to this.

“Obviously we're in a position where we want to work," Flores said. "But unfortunately, we couldn't come to an agreement and we did have to strike the company and demand that we get a decent contract.”

He said in that contract, he and his coworkers are looking for fair breaks and to be paid for all the hours they work.

“There's people that have splits or they have a long day here from 14 or 15 hours a day sometimes and only get paid for eight.”

To his clients, Flores said he feels a heavy weight on his shoulders having to do this.

“My message to them is that just we do apologize for not being able to serve them right now, but hopefully this gets resolved in time in a timely manner and that we're able to go back out there and serve them the right way that we've always done," Flores said.

Margarita wants her drivers back on the road, but said not before they get what they deserve.

“We are behind you and we want you to know that we are rooting for you," she said.

Jose Puga, vice president of the local Teamsters 683, said the company was negotiating in bad faith.

"Workers are on strike because they want sanitary bathrooms and safe places to take breaks, and Transdev has refused to bargain in good faith to address these conditions," he said.

"Workers have been subject to these grotesque conditions for longer than the six months we had been in negotiations. We are on strike because Transdev has refused to offer workers a fair new contract and has failed to address these appalling conditions," Puga said.

MTS provident NBC 7 with this statement:

Transdev/First Transit is covering about 50% of the rides requested [Monday] through MTS Access (500 out of 1,000). Of those 500 missed rides, most of those were cancellations by the passenger through our notification system. The services available right now for MTS Access is a mix of taxi, wheelchair accessible vehicles, and UZURV (Adaptive Transportation Network Company). All these options are at the same cost [of $5] to the passenger.

For minibus service, this situation impacts about 3,000 trips out of 120,000 bus trips per day.

MTS apologizes for the delay in service due to labor negotiations between Transdev/First Transit and its employees. Passengers should plan for limited or no service on minibus routes and MTS Access until further notice.

Negotiations between Transdev and the union started in October 2022. More than 600 drivers are currently affected.

Routes Affected

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.

Bus routes out of the East County division that could be impacted include: 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.

Minibus routes that could be impacted include: Weekdays: 14, 18, 25, 83, 84, 833, 838, 944, 945, 946, 964, 965, 985; Saturdays: 832, 833, 838, 945, 965; Sundays: 832, 833, 838. MTS Access is by appointment only.

The Imperial Avenue Division, Kearny Mesa Division and Trolley System are all running normal service, MTS said.

"We apologize for the delay in service and encourage riders to make alternative transportation plans when available," a statement from the agency reads.

Passengers can check the MTS Alerts & Detours webpage ( for updates and most accurate service information. Passengers can also contact MTS Information & Trip Planning for trip planning assistance at 619-233-3004, or use the online trip planner at MTS Access riders can call 888-517-9627 or visit for recommended alternative transportation options.

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