Bus strike avoided, but budget cuts still forcing bus riders to plan alternate transportation Monday

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PHOENIX -- A possible bus strike Monday in Phoenix has been avoided.

Valley Metro reached a deal late Friday with Veolia Transportation Services to extend the current contract until mid August.

Labor negotiations on a new contract between Phoenix's transit operations contractor Veolia Transportation Services will continue until a long term deal is reached.

Veolia operates 33 of the 99 bus routes that could be affected.

The good news is temporary as it could just be delaying a strike next month if no agreement can be reached.

If a strike vote is approved by rank and file, and the Veolia labor unions go on strike, Veolia-operated routes will have reduced service using the Sunday schedule for local bus and circulator services.

Veolia operates bus service through a contract with the Phoenix Public Transit Department which also provides some service into the cities of Glendale, Peoria, and Scottsdale.

The City of Phoenix suggests using van pools or checking bus routes unaffected by a strike.

Also on Monday, Valley Metro will reduce or eliminate routes due to budget cuts. Those cuts affect both bus service and Light Rail.

Instead of running every 10 minutes between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., the Light Rail trains will run every 12 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Metro is also adding five more holidays.

Nine bus routes are being discontinued. Dozens of others routes -- including local routes, Express and RAPID route, circulator routes and rural routes -- will change in some manner.

For more information on both the service changes and the potential strike, visit ValleyMetro.org. You can also call Valley Metro Customer Service at 602-253-5000, TTY 602-261-8208.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)