AC Transit could cut weekend bus service due to budget woes

Labor demands blamed for major reductions in operations

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit officials are proposing to cut weekend bus service nearly in half and make other reductions to improve the

agency's bleak financial outlook.

The proposed changes are part of an effort to recover at least $15.7 million they say would have been saved if Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents 1,750 employees, including 1,200 bus drivers, had accepted a new benefits package and work rules.

In addition to eliminating almost half of weekend service -- lines on major corridors would be spared -- the district's plan calls for cutting four of six overnight lines, outsourcing paratransit services for seniors and disabled people, and reducing the hours of operation on all of its lines.

Although the proposed cutbacks will be presented tonight, the board won't vote on them until Sept. 22. If approved, they would take effect early next year.

Bus agency officials said a judge's recent ruling that AC Transit must return to what they believe are inefficient and expensive union work rules is costing them an additional $1.2 million a month. The agency already faces a $56 million budget deficit.

Directors at AC Transit, which serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, voted June 30 to impose a new contract on its employees after

three months of negotiations stalled.

But on July 16, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ordered the agency to engage in binding arbitration with ATU Local 192 to try

to reach an agreement on a new contract.

The district still imposed the new contract on July 18, but on Aug. 2 another judge, Judge Judith Ford, ruled that the district must honor

the terms of the old contract during the arbitration process, which is expected to be lengthy.

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