Despite some minor hassles, students deal with bus strike

There has been little progress between the union and Met Council, and no new talks are planned.

Britt Johnsen

Day five of the transit strike follows a weekend of picketing and coping that passed without controversy, officials said.

Bob Gibbons, Metro Transit spokesman, said things were “very, very quiet” during the weekend.

But that does not mean people are not impacted, said Lori Ann Vicich, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services.

She said many people who normally rely on the bus every day have found alternative modes of transportation.

“I think people just planned ahead,” she said.

University sophomore Kat Baugher said she used to take the bus from her Marcy-Holmes neighborhood home to her new job downtown. Since the strike began, she has driven her car.

“It costs me about $10 a day for parking now,” she said. “It is really frustrating just because you’re working to try to earn and save money and now you have to spend money.”

University junior Jake Wilson said his walk to school takes him an extra 20 minutes because the bus is not available. He said he is more likely to skip classes because of the inconvenience.

Also inconvenient, he said, are the extra people along 15th Avenue on his way to school.

“A lot of people are crowding the sidewalks, which makes it even harder to get to class,” he said.

University senior Harry Savage is having trouble getting around since the bus strike began. He used to take the bus every day from his Uptown home.

Now, he said, his neighbor drives him to school in the morning and his parents pick him up in the afternoon.

“(The bus) is such a vital service that many people depend on,” he said.

Because the bus is so essential to some people, professor Pat Crain said she heard students in one of her English classes voice concern over attendance .

“Whatever they seem to be doing seems to be successful,” Crain said. “Everyone seems to have figured it out.”

Vicich said people continued to take up less than 500 parking spaces Friday. There are several hundred more spaces available on campus, she said.

Vicich said parking is usually not a problem during the weekend.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, which represents 2,150 Metro Transit

workers, has been on strike since Thursday because of wages and health-care issues.

There are currently no talks scheduled between the union and Metropolitan Council, Gibbons said.

Both the Met Council and the union have said they will not budge.

“When I said we don’t have another offer I was serious,” Met Council Chairman Peter Bell has said.

Meanwhile, picketers continue to work shifts 24 hours per day, drinking coffee and staying warm with fires in metal barrels as they hold “on strike” signs.

Doug Herrala, who has been a driver for four years, said he hopes it does not take too long, but that the strike is indefinite.

– Hank Long contributed to this report