ATLANTA - More than 70 workers from a company that provides drivers for MARTA’s para-transit services went on a day-long strike on Wednesday.
MARTA said it was notified by MV Transportation, the company the provides the drivers, that it received a formal notice of intent to strike from Amalgamated Transit Union 732, which represents employees and sub-contractors of the Dallas, TX-based company.
"A mass para-transit driver call out has resulted in significant service delays for riders today," said MV Transportation in a statement. "MV is working to minimize service disruption. Trips to medical appointments and workplaces will be prioritized until the driver call out ends."
Union representatives tell 11Alive they are protesting mechanical and safety issues on the buses.
“Some of these buses are like mobile gas chambers; that’s how dangerous they are,” said protestor Stanley Smalls. “The operators of these buses don’t see our passengers as just passengers; they’re family to us.
“Just recently, one driver had a wheel fall off his bus, and thankfully, there was no one on his bus at the time.”
While MV Transportation said it anticipates "this coordinated and planned service disruption by the union to be short, replacement drivers and non-union employees are ready to help minimize delays."
Smalls said protestors plan on returning to work Thursday, and said MV has committed to opening a dialogue with them regarding the issues.
The company said it was notified late on Tuesday about the possibility of a work stoppage and implemented a contingency plan. Any para-transit rider who can reschedule a Feb. 14 trip will receive a free trip on a later date, MV said.
“It is unfortunate that the union and its leadership has chosen to take action that would leave some of Atlanta’s most vulnerable citizens uncertain about their transportation to critical medical appointments, work, school, grocery shopping, and back home again,” said Kevin Klika, MV chief operating officer.
“MARTA is committed to providing safe, reliable transportation to its mobility patrons, many of whom are among our most vulnerable riders, including senior citizens and people living with disabilities, and will work with MV Transportation to ensure continuity of service with priority given to lifeline customers,” the agency said.