Threat of bus strike affects busiest routes in Phoenix

A Valley Metro bus drives southbound on 1st Ave, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Phoenix. (Photo by Laura Davis/Cronkite News)

Harrison Begaye, 20, waits for the light rail at Mill Ave. and 3rd St., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Tempe. (Photo by Laura Davis/Cronkite News)

Grid bikes are pictured on Wednesday Sept. 9, 2015 at Civic Space Park in Phoenix. (Photo by Jacob Stanek/Cronkite News)

Some Valley commuters might have to start carpooling or riding bikes because of the threat of a strike by drivers on dozens of Valley Metro bus routes.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 met Wednesday and voted to authorize a strike if necessary against Valley Metro contractor Transdev.

Matthew Heil, a spokesman for the Phoenix Transportation Department, said city officials do not expect any disruption on bus routes at this time.

The drivers were working under a contract extension with Transdev that expired Wednesday.

Voting on a proposed contract that Heil described as a best and final offer is scheduled for Oct. 7-9.

Affected would be 34 bus routes including some of the busiest along Central, Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue as well as all RAPID commuter routes.

“We do know this is going to be a significant impact on passengers, and we’re working with our contractor to provide some interim service in the event there is some sort of service disruption,” Heil said.

“That’s going to require some ramp-up on our part, but we’re hoping they’ll be able to bring in workers who can meet a Saturday level service for us on the routes that we provide in that contract,” he added.

Bus commuter Natasha Richards said she has a backup plan.

“Get a bicycle and commute that way or taxi cab,” she said.

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