Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

December 5, 2006 > Driver, hold that bus!

Driver, hold that bus!

by Steve Warga

In a surprise move by AC Transit bus drivers, an entire slate of route changes approved May 31 will have to wait even longer. It seems the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 wants more input before their drivers will approve of the changes. Right now, no one will place a date on implementation other than a vague reference to spring of 2007.

Clarence Johnson, AC Transit spokesman suggests the late opposition was not entirely unexpected. "Discussions on ways to provide efficient services have been ongoing for a little while now. There's been a gradual realization that the changes would not take place as planned for the first week in December." He did not mention that this entire slate of changes, some years in the making, was supposed to go online in August and September. Problems with a computerized dispatch system had pushed the start date first to the end of October, then to the first week of December. Now it's all up in the air again.

Johnson emphasized that drivers do not hold absolute veto power over route changes. However, union leaders have applied the brakes at the last minute in an attempt to assert greater control, citing concerns with issues like driver fatigue and inconvenience.

For now, the whole package is on hold. Plans for greater Pacific Commons access; the innovative "circulars" in downtown Fremont for the benefit of seniors; the long-awaited extension of services to Grudwara Temple; expansion of the highly popular Dumbarton Express; all of these and more are now merely idling at the curb while union and management struggle to reach agreement.

Local 192 President Yvonne Williams did not return a phone call seeking comment. If she had done so, perhaps she could have enlightened TCV readers on several questions. First, why did the union wait so long to object? Numerous public hearings were conducted that would have been ideal for airing grievances.

Readers may also wonder why the entire package of changes cannot be broken into individual improvements. Thanks to this last minute power play by the union, needy riders throughout District 2 must wait longer now, wondering all the while if any of the changes will ever occur.

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