CCTA bus wheels continue to turn

Students walking downtown last Friday may have noticed the absence of picketers along Church and Cherry streets in support of Chittenden County Transportation Association (CCTA) bus drivers. All CCTA busses ran as planned on April 15 after negotiations between drivers and the administration were concluded and a contract was decided on, according to a CCTA press release.  “It was tough, it was tough and we didn’t know for sure until this evening whether we were going to have an agreement,” Federal Mediator Elayne Tempel said to the Burlington Free Press. The details of the contract won’t be released for another 10-15 days, but both parties are confident in the future of the contract, the Burlington Free Press reported. “The overriding factor was that agreement needed to be reached for the sake of the public that depend on the services of CCTA to get to doctor’s appointments, school and work,” according to a CCTA press release. Last minute negotiations were held in order to prevent a strike on April 15, the Burlington Free Press reported. If an agreement had not been reached, the strike would have resulted in a disturbance to the Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Essex, Williston and Shelburne routes, said Jim Fouts, bus driver and spokesman, to the Burlington Free Press. The LINK trips to Montpelier, Middlebury, Milton and St. Albans would have been affected as well, Fouts said. Sophomore Molly Hanover said it would be very inconvenient if the drivers went on strike. “I ride the bus twice a day [because] I live off campus and don’t have a car,” Hanover said. “But I can walk to class if needed, so [it’s] rough but doable.” Negotiations over the details of the contract have been debated more than a year, since the drivers’ contract expired last July, the Burlington Free Press reported. Drivers held a rally downtown in February to inform the public about the contract and the driver’s demands. CCTA proposed a new contract in response but the drivers rejected it in a 52-6 vote, the Burlington Free Press reported.