Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

CrimsonRide operates normal hours, UA explains last week’s schedule change

Full CrimsonRide bus service will resume normal operations starting today, according to an e-mail sent by UA officials to students Sunday.

This news follows a week of limited bus service as negotiations between First Transit, the parent company that operates the bus system for the University, and Amalgamated Transit Union, under which CrimsonRide drivers have unionized, went on.

Drivers went on strike Monday to protest low wages and low benefits, and limited CrimsonRide service was put in place as the two groups met to resolve the differences.

CrimsonRide drivers are not UA employees, but instead work for First Transit.

UA spokeswoman Deborah Lane said the UA administration revised the bus schedule last week when the officials became aware that Amalgamated Transit Union planned to continue the strike through the week.

“UA’s Transportation Services decided to implement a limited bus schedule until a contract is signed so that students, faculty and staff will have a consistent bus schedule they can rely on,” Lane said. “Students, faculty and staff were notified that the limited bus schedule would begin Wednesday.”

Kenneth Kirk, international vice president of ATU, released a statement notifying CrimsonRide patrons that the limited bus service was not put into action by the bus union, but was a decision made by the University administration.

Kirk said drivers agreed to go back to work and resume negotiations with First Transit out of concerns for students.

“Unfortunately, it seems that UA President Robert Witt does not share our concern because he has decided to reduce service for the duration of negotiations,” he said.

According to a press release sent Friday, First Transit and ATU are continuing negotiations.

In the statement, Matt Wood, senior vice president of First Transit, said the company runs the UA transit system so that it has the lowest customer cost with the highest value of customer service.

“In regard to the ongoing discussions, we have negotiated in good faith with union representatives since September and are working to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable, especially considering the current economic conditions,” he said.

So far, ATU has not presented recent offers proposed by the company, which would increase wages 4 to 9 percent, in addition to guaranteed health care benefits and additional time off with pay, to union members for a vote.

However, according to a press release from the drivers’ union, union officials said First Transit plans to lock out and replace current CrimsonRide drivers if they “refuse to accept a contract containing poverty-level wages.”

First Transit receives approximately $144,400 for each 2080 hours of service provided, while the bus drivers they employ receive approximately $18,720 for the same period of time, according to information released by ATU.

In addition, it was reported that the company has “been unable to retain employees at the current wages paid, suffering 50 percent annual turnover of drivers.”

Lane said immediate actions would be taken if further negotiations prove unsuccessful.

“UA believes that the $55 an hour we pay First Transit is sufficient to allow them to pay reasonable wages to their bus operators,” Land said. “If First Transit fails to rapidly re-establish and maintain full and permanent bus service to the campus, the University will explore other transit options.”

More to Discover