It’s not too often that I report on transit happenings occurring outside of my coverage areas. However, in extenuating circumstances that could cause long-term impacts upon a transit agency while causing short to mid-term service disruptions – it’s important to know what your options may be if transit services are suddenly not available.
In the Dayton, OH region, many transit customers rely on the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority to provide bus and paratransit services each day. The area’s school district also contracts with the transit agency to provide basic bus service to and from schools. In Florida, most of the respective school districts provide their own busing to transport students to and from school.
During the past several months, a labor dispute has threatened to cripple transit services if left unresolved. Unionized employees have continually alleged that their needs for better pay and benefits have been left ignored by agency management. Despite several efforts to try and negotiate through the situation without incident, those talks have failed.
As of 12-midnight this morning, the unionized GDRTA employees are on strike, leaving regular bus services completely suspended and paratransit services operating at bare minimum levels until further notice. While many have been bracing for the possibility of a widespread service interruption in a worst-case-scenario for some time, other customers were left scrambling for transportation options as of this morning.
How did this happen?
Two key issues by which the unionized GDRTA employees – represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 – are demanding that management resolve are pay and medical benefits. Workers state that there has been no pay raise since April 2014 and that they have not been properly compensated for overtime. Additionally, increased costs in health care have prompted the agency to make unpopular changes in their employee’s medical benefits. So far, the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement and the union announced its intent to go on strike in late December of 2016, with January 8th being the “make it, or break it moment”.
What you need to know going forward
There’s no doubt that as the AM rush hour starts to dwindle that many are left stranded, wondering how they’ll get to where they need to go. While the strike is in effect, expect increased traffic as those who have access to a personal vehicle but normally use transit will be on the roads. Additionally, ride sharing and taxi services will be to capacity and a speedy pickup may not be available. While biking, walking, carpooling, and telecommuting may be an option for some, it will not be an option for many others.
For those who rely on paratransit services (also known as Project Mobility), you should contact (937) 425-8300 for further information and scheduling a next-day trip. You can monitor updates through local media outlets and through social media. Frequently Asked Questions are posted to the RTA website.
(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)