Threat of bus strike looms over Phoenix bus riders

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A possible bus strike could once again mean delays for Phoenix commuters who rely on public transportation.

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 are scheduled to vote Monday and Tuesday on a contract offer from First Transit, which operates more than a dozen of Valley Metro's most-traveled bus routes in Phoenix. That includes the lines that run up and down Thomas and Indian School roads.

(See full list of potentially affected routes)

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the union's bus drivers could strike and bus stops like the one on Thomas Road near Central Avenue could be affected.

"The buses are loaded with people, a lot of people," said Patricia Collins, who has relied on the bus for more than 20 years to get to work. "I really don't want these buses to go on strike because I rely on this bus to provide my service to the homeless at the St. Mary's Food Bank."

ATU and First Transit have been at the negotiating table since collective bargaining agreements ended over the summer.

According to the Phoenix Public Transit Department, First Transit gave ATU its "best-and-final offer," earlier this month.

The union reportedly is asking its members to authorize a call to strike.

Should the First Transit drivers walk out, the light rail and bus routes run by different contractors in other parts of the metro area would continue operate normally. But the transit system as a whole would be affected by a strike. Service interruptions in one part of the system can throw off connections and transfers in others.

Two of the busiest routes are 29 (Thomas Road) and 41 (Indian School Road) and the city of Phoenix is warning its riders that if the bus drivers go on strike, they could see delays in service.

"You've got people going to Phoenix Community College, you've got students, you've got St. Mary's workers, you've got hospital workers, there are a lot of people who count on this route right here," Collins said.

In August 2013, bus drivers who work for First Transit and are represented by ATU went on strike for four days. That strike shut down 40 routes in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe affecting some 57,000 daily riders.

In March 2012, a strike crippled bus service in metropolitan Phoenix for six days before it was settled.

The Phoenix Public Transit Department said it will keeps its customers informed about the situation through the Service Alerts page of its website and via its Twitter feed.

Phoenix routes operated by First Transit

  • 3: Van Buren
  • 13: Buckeye
  • 17: McDowell Road
  • 29: Thomas Road
  • 41: Indian School
  • 43: 43rd Avenue
  • 51: 51st Avenue
  • 59: 59th Avenue
  • 67: 67th Avenue
  • 75: 75th Avenue
  • 83: 83rd Avenue
  • 19C: Phoenix Neighborhood Circulator
  • GAL: Grand Avenue Limited
  • MARY: Phoenix Neighborhood Circulator