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Bus drivers strike in Santa Clarita enters second week

The bus drivers strike in Santa Clarita entered its second week, with limited service being offered Tuesday and all services suspended or canceled over the weekend.

Santa Clarita Transit canceled all bus and transit services Saturday and Sunday including Dial A Ride and Access routes because of a lack of available drivers. The Dial A Ride and Access services were canceled last weekend as well.

Two emergency transit service routes were added last week in the midst of the bus drivers strike against Santa Clarita Transit, bringing five limited emergency routes, six limited school tripper routes and Dial A Ride and Access service in operation Monday through Friday. The two new emergency routes were added on Oct. 17.

The emergency routes are in operation from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Santa Clarita Transit secured a temporary emergency contract with Transit Systems to provide emergency bus service during the strike that started Oct. 10 between the union representing drivers and MV Transportation.

The emergency contract with Transit Systems began providing limited, fare-free bus service for local and school tripper routes. 

There is no commuter services being provided during the strike.

Around 200 Santa Clarita Transit employees have been picketing outside the two entrances to the city transit yard daily since the strike started. 

Lourdes Garcia, president of Local 572, said the union is seeking a 9% pay increase for 2022, an 8% increase for 2023 and an 8% increase for 2024, according to media reports.

MV Transportation is reportedly offering $19.75 per hour to start, with a 25 cent increase after one year, 10 cent increase after two years, 10 cent increase after three years, 15 cent increase after four years and 75 cent increase after five years.

The strike halted service for hundreds of students and passengers in the city.

Santa Clarita Transit posted on its website service was suspended on all commuter and local routes when the strike started. A driver shortage forced Santa Clarita Transit to suspend all bus service on Oct. 9. 

The strike interrupted bus service for students in the William S. Hart Union High School District and passengers throughout the city. 

The city of Santa Clarita partners with MV Transportation for bus services. The union voted to authorize a strike on Sept. 15. The city of Santa Clarita is not a participant in the labor dispute, MV Transportation said in a statement.

The union notified Santa Clarita Transit on Sept. 28 of the decision to halt work, but delayed going on strike for a week. 

City officials are encouraging both sides to continue negotiations and bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached.

Santa Clarita Transit provides a school tripper service for students in the Hart district who attend La Mesa Junior High School, Castaic High School, Rancho Pico Junior High School, Saugus High School and Arroyo Seco Junior High School.

The Hart district posted on its website for those who use Santa Clarita Transit services to make alternate plans for transportation to schools. 

The district’s yellow bus service for special needs students will not be interrupted, according to the district. 

“No other local, tripper, or commuter routes can be served at this time. However, the city continues efforts to increase service levels,” the site reads. “The city is also coordinating with the Hart district to cover service gaps.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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