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.