FORESTVILLE, Md. — Metro bus operators might refuse to drive extra shuttle routes that are part of the transit agency’s largest-ever rail shutdown, union officials said Wednesday.
The drama comes just two workdays into the summer-long closure of six Blue and Yellow line stations in Virginia. Free shuttle buses are now bridging the gap for thousands of rush-hour commuters.
The head of Metro’s largest union of employees says bus operators from other regions such as Northwest D.C. are being conscripted into driving shutdown bus service without any prior training on the routes.
“It’s a serious safety issue going on out there right now,” said ATU Local 689 President Raymond Jackson.
Union leaders stressed that so-called ‘strategic operators’ being moved from one route to another takes the original bus offline, creating a region-wide issue.
“Now you have the riding public standing at bus stations where no bus is coming,” said Jackson.
Metro has not commented directly on this issue but did say that there were issues with a small number of shutdown shuttle bus drivers, some of them being contractors.
“The authority’s biggest problem is you’re not listening to the people who do the work,” said Jackson, adding that his requests to be a part of shutdown planning meetings were not returned.
“If you’re not going to look out for the safety of the riding public, then the union is going to have to,” said Jackson. “If that means we have to stand down from this work then that’s what we’re going to do.”