Tag Archives: OCTA

How Do I Use the Bus When the Drivers Are on Strike?

OK, this will sound bizarre to all of you who believe in the stereotype of people in “The OC” speeding around in Hummers and Maseratis… But I often ride the bus here. That’s why I’m now worrying about
the bus workers’ strike that started at 12:00 AM today.

I don’t know what’s happening to the buses that usually glide down Bristol Street just outside my house. I don’t know if I can take the bus today to where I had been planning to go. I’m now wondering if my idea of being more eco-friendly by using mass transit was a stupid idea after all.

But more importantly, I’m worrying about all those hundreds of thousands of people who depend on the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to get around. How do they get to work and to school and to the grocery store now? What the heck will happen to all these people?

Follow me after the flip for more…

Right now, OCTA bus drivers are paid between $13 and $21 an hour. That may sound good, but consider how much it costs to make do in a place with such a high cost of living as Orange County. And consider that they haven’t had a pay increase in years. And consider that the wage and benefit package that’s being offered by OCTA won’t meet the projected living standards offered by the county. The only reason why the drivers are going on strike is because they can’t keep up with inflation and the rising cost of living.

So OCTA is starting to budge. Why couldn’t they budge sooner? And why can’t they just agree upon a fair deal with the drivers? Some 220,000 riders depend on these buses to get around every day. And now that the entire Orange County bus system is in limbo, how can these people get around?

Maybe a few of these people have their own cars. Maybe some of these people have friends who can give them rides. But what about all those folks who have no access to a car? Are they just screwed?

So this strike isn’t a good deal for any one. The drivers need a living wage that will help them get by in such an expensive place to live as OC. The riders need buses to get them to where they need to go. And the OC economy depends on these workers and consumers who use the bus to get around.

So what happens now? I guess I’ll have a hard time getting around today. Perhaps I can bum more rides off my dad. But what about all those folks who can’t bum a ride off my dad? How will they get down Bristol Street to the mall now? How will they get to work at that sushi place in Newport? How will they get to the grocery store off 17th Street?

I guess that’s the way the strike blows.

Who’s Slowing Who Down? Who’s Making Who Look Bad?

OK, I just saw this latest piece of folly from every one’s favorite Republican Insider, Jubal/Matt Cunningham of Red County/OC Blog:

The Los Angeles Times published a truly remarkable article today: “MTA Fears A Bottleneck At OC Line.”

Basically, Metropolitan Transportation Authority is complaining the Orange County Transportation Authority‘s ongoing program of freeway widening is making MTA look bad. OCTA’s freeway-centered investment collides with MTA’s lightrail-centered priorities at the LA-OC county line in the form of traffic bottlenecks. It’s a vivid illustration of the different outcomes of the two agencies priorities.

OCTA has funneled its money into transportation modes the vast majority of people actually use: freeway and roads. As a result, our freeways move faster than those in Los Angeles. The MTA, by contrast, has prioritized its money into modes of public transit that far fewer people use, i.e. light rail. Or as OCTA Director Jerry Amante put it:

“We build lanes, not trains.”

And we’re supposed to be proud of that? OK, so widened freeways may be useful in relieving traffic in the short-term. As long as we have all these cars on the road, we have to have something for them to drive on. But really, wouldn’t some long-term solutions also help here?

Follow me after the flip for more as I explain why OCTA shouldn’t exactly be gloating over this…

So why should LA County MTA not feel so bad about not keeping up with the freeway expansion happening across the county line in Orange County? Perhaps because MTA has surpassed all the other transportation agencies in Southern California in mass transit? After all, MTA was named “America’s Best Public Transportation System” due to record high ridership, very high commuter satisfaction, and the amazing success of the Orange Line rapid bus service in the San Fernando Valley. MTA should really be proud of the high quality of transit service that they offer to Los Angeles County.

But what do I know about this? What does some “crazy environazi, anti-car zealot” from Orange County know about how successful MTA has been with its transit lines in Los Angeles? Well, I actually use the subway and the bus whenever I’m in Los Angeles, and boy is it great! I can take the Red Line from Downtown LA to Hollywood, and I never have to wait too long for a train as there’s one about every 10 minutes. I can take the 720 Rapid Bus down Wilshire Blvd. from Koreatown to Santa Monica, and I can be at the pier in about 45 minutes. That actually isn’t bad when compared to the nasty congestion often seen on the freeways (with OR without widening). And even late at night, I’m never stranded as there are now 24-hour bus routes throughout LA. Just look at the MTA system map, and try to tell me that Los Angeles County’s transit agency isn’t doing a terrific job of moving people.

Obviously, LA County has figured out the secret to success in not just relieving traffic, but also reducing air pollution and doing something to stop the climate catastrophe. We all know that our vehicles emit much of the carbon dioxide that’s causing climate change. So what can we do about it? Well, how about riding the clean, efficient local mass transit service?! And with all these people riding Metro buses and trains, LA County MTA really is doing its part to fight climate change. But of course, pollutions isn’t the only thing that’s reduced by all this mass transit service. We have to realize that more people using these buses and trains also means FEWER CARS ON THE STREETS AND FREEWAYS. And fewer cars on the streets and freeways means LESS TRAFFIC! If anything, LA County is really

Now compare and contrast what Los Angeles County is doing to Orange County’s preferred “traffic relief” plan. Now yes, we do have buses. And yes, there is Metrolink rail service to Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. However, our transit network in Orange County doesn’t really cover the whole region like what MTA is trying to do in LA County. Perhaps this is because our transportation “solutions” have been centered on expanding freeways and streets. And oh yes, let’s not forget the toll roads. Now don’t get me wrong, roads are important. And so long as we have all these cars on the road, we have to improve our roads to help people with their commutes. However, this is only a short-term solution.

Over the long term, we can’t sustain all these cars on all these roads. So long as we continue developing farther and farther away from urban cores, and all we do about this is build more roads that only spark more development, we’ll never see long-term traffic relief. This is why we need smarter development and smarter transportation planning. And when it comes to smarter transportation planning, Los Angeles County is doing this. If we want long-term traffic relief, environmental health, and an overall better community, we need to figure out how to take these cars off the road and get people moving in a more efficient manner.

This is why Jubal/Matt shouldn’t be gloating about temporary bottlenecks in South LA County. LA County MTA might have a temporary problem that they will have to solve by improving the 5 and 405, but they are implementing a long-term solution to their overall traffic problem by expanding bus and commuter rail options. Hopefully one day soon, more people here in Orange County will push OCTA to do the same.

Court Halts Orange County Bus Drivers’ Strike

The strike has been blocked. For now, at least, Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) bus drivers will NOT be allowed to walk off the job and begin striking over their labor dispute. So why has the strike been blocked? Arnold went to court. (From OC Register)

They determined that a bus strike would cripple the county’s transit system and disrupt the lives of thousands of residents.

In addition to affecting more than 200,000 daily bus passengers, a strike would have adverse economic impacts on businesses, with a potential loss of $800,000 in sales per day.

The findings of a state-appointed ad-hoc panel were sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in turn asked state lawyers to seek an injunction to prevent a strike from happening Monday.

“He sees this labor dispute as a safety issue for the county,” said aide Sabrina Demayo Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office. “We think this next step will help.”

So what happens next? Follow me after the flip for more…

So why can’t the OCTA drivers strike? The court agreed with the finding of the ad-hoc panel appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger that too many Orange County residents would lose their mobility.

A walkout would “significantly impair the health, safety and welfare ability of a sizeable portion of Orange County residents,” according to the report.

The board was appointed last week to gather information about the dispute between bus drivers and their employer, the Orange County Transportation Authority.

An Orange County Superior Court judge agreed with the board’s findings Monday and ordered a 60-day cooling-off period that bars 1,100 bus drivers from walking off of the job and potentially leaving thousands of bus riders stranded.

And what does this mean for the workers? How are they feeling about this? And is there room for an agreement between the bus drivers and OCTA that can potentially avoid any strike altogether? Apparently, $2.8 million can make a big difference.

Currently, OCTA bus drivers earn hourly wages of between $13.72 and $21.42. Currently, OCTA and the union are about $2.8 million away from reaching an agreement.

OCTA officials say the wage increase is based on economic projections prepared by Chapman University. Union leaders argue that Chapman’s projections were off three years ago during a previous contract negotiation, and were inaccurate during recent negotiations.

Patrick D. Kelly, principal officer of union Teamster Local 952, said union members will spread their message to the public and bus riders to drum up support.

In terms of negotiations, Kelly said the union cannot ask for less than the $210 million, three-year contract it requested. The OCTA has offered the union a $207 million contract, about a 13.3 percent increase in wages and benefits.

“I don’t think there’s much room for us to make a lot of movement,” Kelly said. “[The OCTA]hasn’t moved one iota in the last couple of months. … It might get to be a hot summer.”

Now that the court has ordered more time for negotiations, let’s hope that OCTA can reach an agreement with its workers. The economic well-being of these workers is at stake. If Chapman’s economic projections really are off, then OCTA needs to bridge the $2.8 million gap and pay the workers what they need to make ends meet.

Oh yes, and this is not just about the well-being of the bus drivers. This is about the economic well-being of the entire county. If OCTA cannot reach an agreement with the drivers, and if the drivers have no option left but to strike, then there will be way too many thousands of people who would suddenly be immobilized. They wouldn’t be able to go to work, or go to school, or go to the grocery store, or really go anywhere. We can’t let that happen.

Let’s hope OCTA uses this opportunity to make a deal with the bus drivers that all sides can agree to, because no one can afford to just not get around.

OC Bus Drivers Ready to Strike

Uh, oh. I guess I won’t be using the bus for a while. Look at what I found in The Register:


Orange County bus drivers could go on strike at midnight tonight, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a 60-day cooling-off period and lawyers for the state are expected to seek a court injunction today that would stop an immediate walkout.

The bus drivers earlier authorized a strike and will be without a contract at midnight, with no further talks scheduled, according to Teamsters Local 952, which represents about 1,100 Orange County Transportation Authority bus drivers.

So what does this mean for the 200,000 plus people who ride OCTA buses every day? And what might happen to the drivers? Follow me after the flip for more…

So what does this mean for the workers? Another snippet of the article gives us a clue:

Meeting Friday, representatives of the bus drivers union and OCTA failed to extend the driver’s old contract, said Patrick Kelly of the Teamsters.

The contact expired last Monday, but was extended for a week when Schwarzenegger ordered a seven-day cooling off period, which expires at midnight.

Today, attorneys for the state are expected to ask an Orange County judge to prohibit a strike for 60 days more, Kelly said.

More than 200,000 people a day ride Orange County buses.

If the judge determines a walkout would not significantly disrupt public transportation services and endanger the public health, safety or welfare, and does not issue an injunction, the bus drivers are ready to walk off the job just after midnight, Kelly said.

So what happens to everyone riding the bus? Does this mean that I can’t take Route 57 from my house to Newport? Does this mean I can’t take Route 1 from Newport to Laguna? What happens to all the workers who use the bus? What happens to the disabled folks who depend on OCTA to get around?

I’m really disappointed that OCTA could not make an agreement with the Teamsters. Not only are they putting the livelihoods of these bus drivers at risk, but they are also jeopardizing the livelihoods of all the many thousands of workers who depend on OCTA to get to their jobs on time. I have a feeling that this won’t work out for anyone.

Too bad that OCTA and the County of Orange allowed this labor dispute to become a transportation nightmare.