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.