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The union representing Metro Bus drivers says Monday's absenteeism wasn't an organized sickout.
Nearly 100 bus drivers didn't report to work yesterday -- ten-times the number who might miss on an ordinary day. But yesterday wasn't ordinary in St. Louis. It was Opening Day at Busch Stadium. There has been speculation that the drivers, disgruntled over the lack of progress in contract negotiations, may have been trying to disrupt traffic heading downtown for the Cardinals' home opener.
If that was their aim, it wasn't very effective. Metro Transit CEO John Nations says there were significant delays on Missouri bus lines yesterday, but MetroLink and Illinois bus lines weren't affected. Since most public transit rider heading for Busch Stadium use MetroLink, they saw few delays.
Nations says the transit agency called in extra drivers in an effort to keep the buses rolling. But many commuters still saw significant delays. On some lines, buses were running an hour or more behind.
The transit agency and the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the bus drivers have been locked in contract talks for months. A spokesman for Local 788 tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that drivers weren't encouraged by the union to call in sick, but may have acted in frustration over the slow pace of contract talks.
Articulated buses, with two segments linked by an accordion-like connection, will roll in St. Louis this year.
Metro Transit will deploy the refurbished, 60 foot buses this year to address chronic overcrowding on the Grand line. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that reports that even with the buses running down Grand every 10 minutes, there isn't enough room to pick up all of the would-be passengers. The articulated buses have 14 more seats than the standard 40 foot buses.
More than $5 million in federal grants helped Metro buy 15 of the used buses.
The first of them will be on the streets by March, with the rest running by midyear.
Regional planners are looking for a more efficient way to get riders to work and back.
The St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study is an examination of bus-based rapid transit services in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. The project will analyze four possible corridors and pick the two most likely to meet the study's goals, then advance for federal funding.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Metro Transit, the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council and the Missouri Department of Transportation are behind the push.
Public meetings will be held in September 2013 to gather public input on two final, recommended projects to be advanced into competition for Federal funding. The same meeting will be repeated at three locations along the proposed routes.
September 10, 2013
11a-1pm, open house with presentation at noon
City of St. Louis City Hall, 2nd floor
1200 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103
September 11, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
The Heights (City of Richmond Heights Community Center)
8001 Dale Avenue, Richmond Heights, MO 63117
September 12, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley Campus, Student Services Center, Multipurpose Room
3400 Pershall Road, Ferguson, MO 63135
They're also soliciting comments online.
Kansas City and other U.S. cities have launched successful bus rapid transit lines that provide more regular point-to-point service at a fraction of the cost of light-rail or commuter trains.
Metro Transit officials and union leaders will resume contract negotiations early next month.
Bi-State Development Agency President & CEO John Nations officials with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 have assured him there will be no work stoppages before both sides sit down and talk the week of September 9th. The union represents MetroBus and MetroLink operators as well mechanics and some clerical staff.
Nations says a work stoppage would be unfair to the nearly one million passengers a week who ride MetroLink and Metro buses.
It appears union workers and Metro Transit still have a long way to go before agreeing on new contracts. Union members from the St. Louis area cast a symbolic vote Tuesday.
Labor leaders says workers voted in favor of a mediator's recommendations related to pensions and pay but rejected recommendations related to health insurance.
John Nations, Metro president and CEO says the transit agency doesn't have the money to meet workers demands. He's urging the two sides to sit down and negotiate.
Union officials say they don't expect a strike this month, but say if transit officials don't negotiate in good faith, a work stoppage could come next month.
The ballots have been counted and after two days of voting, St. Louis public transportation workers are unanimous in their support for a job action.
Ninety percent of the voting membership of Transit Local 788 gave a thumbs up for a strike authorization. Local president Mike Breihan says the International office still needs to sanction the job action.
"The largest majority supported the strike," Breihan said. "So what we do now is send the information up to the International. They make a decision on to sanction the strike or not. And then if that happens we will follow procedures and see what happens."
Breihan says the Union will wait to set a strike date until after a mediator issues his report in late June.
Metro reports due to wires down, trees down and debris in roadways following last night's severe weather, especially in the North St. Louis County area, the following MetroBus routes are being rerouted until further notice:
#45 Ferguson Florissant
#4174 New Halls Ferry Express
Metro says they are unable to serve the Patterson/Lindbergh area at this time. "We ask our MetroBus customers to be patient and allow extra time for their commutes this morning as the situation no doubt will keep changing with regard to streets being opened and closed. Customers should use extreme care in walking to their bus stops in the areas where storm damage was heavy."
Metro Call-A-Ride: Customers will be contacted if Metro Call-A-Ride vans do not have access to their streets.
MetroLink: Normal service this morning. Trains are running on time.
The Forest Park Trolley goes back in service today.
The trolley bus will shuttle park visitors between attractions, park and ride lots, and the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station. Beginning today, it'll run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, the hours expand -- 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The cost is two-dollars for adults, one-dollar for kids 5-to-12, seniors and the disabled. Children 4 and younger are free.
The Forest Park Trolley is a service of Metro Transit.
Mass transit company Metro celebrated a milestone anniversary Wednesday.
With the first 50 years in the books, MetroBus is building a reputation as a leader in the industry with new technologies developed in St. Louis that enhance fuel economy, cut pollution and further the focus on running green. Ray Friem is with Metro Transit Services.
The reason St. Louis is becoming that is our maintenance department has developed systems and detection methods that are unique. And so the manufacturers of this equipment are coming to us and saying look we'd like to take advantage of that and test this in your environment.
MetroBus serves 29 millions riders annually.