Tuesday, Nov. 1 was not a good day to be riding the bus to work or, for that matter, anywhere else in Greensboro.
The city released an announcement at 7:46 a.m. that stated, “No Greensboro Transit Agency bus or paratransit service is running this morning due to a lack of operators. As the City of Greensboro knows more details, we will update the public.”
At 7:53 a.m., a press release stated, “Update: GTA paratransit service is now operating.”
At 10:59, another update was released that stated, “GTA Fixed Routes 6, 8, 12, 12A, 73 and 75 are operating.”
And the final update at 11:15 a.m. stated, “GTA bus service on all routes will resume normal operations at 11:30 am today, November 1.”
If they waited, bus riders who were supposed to be at work early this morning might have been able to get there by lunch.
The issue causing the disruption in service reportedly was a walkout by GTA bus drivers.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “Bus operators are not city employees. We were not informed about it, until after the walkout had begun. I understand the drivers had an issue with proposed insurance premiums.”
Vaughan noted that in North Carolina city and state workers cannot participate in collective bargaining, which means they can’t form traditional labor unions. City and state workers can form associations.
However, the GTA bus drivers work for a third party, RATP Dev, which has a contract with the city to operate both the fixed route and the paratransit service, Access GSO.
Vaughan explained that the bus operators were unionized and that was left over from when Duke Energy operated the bus system. Greensboro took over the bus system from Duke in 1990 and part of the agreement was that the bus drivers would remain unionized.
Vaughan said, “I understand the bus operators didn’t show up for work today.”
She added, “The city was not involved in any of those discussions. We were not aware that there was an issue with the bus drivers and the management company. So I don’t know all the ins and outs of the issue.”
Vaughan noted that it was particularly important to get Access GSO up and running because the paratransit service is used primarily for doctors’ appointments.
Do we really need bus service anymore? Most everyone has a car and there is uber and taxis at reasonable rates.
Not everyone has a car, or even wants a car. Some have medication that does not allow them to drive. Some, as I, choose to walk and to use public transport for ethical and environmental reasons. Taxis and the like are way beyond the finances for many to use daily. All desirable cities around the world have public transport, and for good reasons.
Mandate Mayor with ignorance as an excuse. When the city government can’t and won’t provide essential services properly without interruption who is to blame other than city leaders. The lack of information and misleading press releases are unacceptable as well. Fire the company and hire folks that cannot strike to provide services like basic transportation and sanitation.
So in 1990 city leaders gave huge concessions to former Duke employees allowing them to be unionized and this is in writing where? How does this work with different companies thru the years running the management of employees like the current RATP Dev? If city leaders terminate or refuse to renew contracts with RATP Dev for failure to provide services why couldn’t they hire non union drivers? How many drivers are still driving from the over 30 year old “agreement” with the city?
A quick Google search reveals RATP Dev is a foreign owned mega corporation. Why would our city leaders allow foreign entities control over basic city functions like public transportation?
If I remember correctly, seemingly necessary fair increases were voted down a few years ago and now we have inflation to deal with. I wonder how long it has been since they got a raise. Plus, the drivers get to see and hear about city employee step raises and the newly proposed city employee moving incentive cash and probably want a piece of the government money pie too.
So the city is equity and inclusivity……excludes its city bus drivers from city benefits and retirement?? All this talk about fair and equitable pay and the max pay for a city bus driver with years of service is $20.00 really??
If you don’t like the pay or benefits go find another job. Simple actually
They are not city bus drivers, but are employees or a private company.
“Most everyone has a car”. Given rising cost of cars, fuel, and maintenance, it might be that buses are more important now than they have been in a long while.
In this County, using public transportation indicates that you are poor and cannot afford a car. There is a stigma about it.
If you visit some large cities, you will find networks of public transport. Years ago, it was safe and desireable to visit San Francisco. There were cable cars, trolleys, and buses criss-crossing the City. Passes were incredibly cheap compared to driving and parking your car in the City. Everyone used the service.
We had trolley service in GSO from the turn of the last century, to the 60s or 70s, I think. 3 rides for 25c. By then, most people had a car, and shunned the buses.
RAPT, does have the City by the sack. They aren’t the only company to bid on the services but the easiest to implement or continue services with. Can you expect the level of service from a third party that you demand from city departments? You shouldn’t. Citizens don’t care if they are 3rd party or city employees, they just expect service without disruption. I suggest reconsider how you award this contract if you want the best services.