New I-66 commuter bus

An OmniRide bus

OmniRide, Prince William County's commuter bus service, will modify service again Friday, Aug. 2, in response to a driver shortage related to an ongoing labor dispute.

An undisclosed number of bus drivers did not report for duty on Thursday, Aug. 1, forcing OmniRide to revert to a modified version of its emergency service plan.

OmniRide also ended some of its routes early on Thursday, to allow drivers the rest mandated by federal rules, Christine Rodrigo, OmniRides spokeswoman, said in a press release.

On Friday morning, OmniRide will offer Express bus service to and from the Pentagon Metro Station approximately every 30 minutes between 4:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m., according to a "tentative" schedule released by OmniRide Thursday night.

OmniRide Express buses in the Interstate 66 corridor will run at least every 30 minutes to the Tysons Corner Metro Station, also between 4:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Fares on OmniRide Express buses will be free, the press release said.

As was the case Thursday, OmniRide Local buses will not make off-route trips on Friday, and the VRE Shuttle Service will not operate -- allowing OmniRide to divert those resources to other trips, the press release said.

The plan is based on expectations of the number of bus operators who will report for work on Friday morning and could change. For the most up-to-date service information, the public is encouraged to check OmniRide.com.

Some OmniRide bus drivers began participating in a work stoppage Aug. 1, after their contract expired with OmniRide’s service contractor, First Transit.

First Transit has been negotiating with the union that represents OmniRide bus operators, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, since March 2019.

OmniRide has a contract with First Transit, which hires the bus operators and mechanics who work on OmniRide buses. But OmniRide is not involved in First Transit’s negotiations with AFSCME, the press release said.

Attempts to reach a union representative for comment about the ongoing work stoppage and the bus drivers' contract negotiations have not yet been successful. 

OmniRide passengers are encouraged to sign up for Rider Express alerts and monitor their website for updates.

During the work stoppage, OmniRide is encouraging commuters to consider alternatives to driving alone, including:

  • Vanpool Alliance, a regional vanpool program sponsored by OmniRide, which works with many vanpool operators. For more information, use the Vanpool Finder to contact operators. 
  • Virginia Railway Express trains offer service in the I-95 and I-66 corridors. Visit VRE.org for more information.
  • Slugging is a free alternative. Learn more at these websites: Sluglines.com or Slug-Lines.com.

UPDATED Thursday 4:25 p.m.: The work stoppage affecting OmniRide, Prince William County’s commuter bus service, will force buses to wrap up early today, Thursday, Aug. 1, OmniRide officials said.

The last Metro Express bus will leave the OmniRide Transit Center at 6:55 p.m., and the last Metro Express bus will leave Franconia-Springfield Metro Station at 7:30 p.m., Christine Rodrigo, spokeswoman for OmniRide, said in a press release.

The changes are needed to meet driver federal safety standards and to ensure there are enough drivers to operate routes on Friday, Aug. 2, Rodrigo said.

Information about Friday morning’s service plan will be posted at OmniRide.com as soon as the service knows how many operators report to work, Rodrigo said.

Additional details about tonight’s service plan, see OmniRide.com.

Already, OmniRide local buses are not making off-route trips, and OmniRide’s shuttle to the Virginia Railway Express stations have been suspended, Rodrigo said.

The work stoppage is the result of an ongoing dispute between First Transit, OmniRide’s service contractor, and the union that represents its bus operators, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

First Transit’s contract with AFSCME expired at midnight July 31. OmniRide has a contract with First Transit, which hires the bus operators and mechanics who work on OmniRide buses. But OmniRide is not a party to First Transit’s negotiations with AFSCME, Rodrigo said.

AFSCME and First Transit reached a tentative agreement for a new contract in late June 2019, however the union later rejected that offer. AFSCME subsequently rejected an offer to extend the contract through Sept. 30 to allow the parties to continue negotiations, Rodrigo said in a news release.

“OmniRide values and appreciates its entire workforce and respects the union’s right to collectively bargain for wages and fringe benefits,” Rodrigo said. “ We are doing everything possible to minimize the impact of the work stoppage on our passengers.”

OmniRide passengers are encouraged to sign up for Rider Express alerts and monitor their website for updates.

During the work stoppage, OmniRide is encouraging commuters to consider alternatives to driving alone, including:

  • Vanpool Alliance, a regional vanpool program sponsored by OmniRide, which works with many vanpool operators. For more information, use the Vanpool Finder to contact operators. 
  • Virginia Railway Express trains offer service in the I-95 and I-66 corridors. Visit VRE.org for more information.
  • Slugging is a free alternative. Learn more at these websites: Sluglines.com or Slug-Lines.com.

Other details about OmniRide bus schedules for Thursday, Aug. 1:

OMNIRIDE EXPRESS 

Dale City, Lake Ridge and service to the 234 Commuter Lot: Service will begin at the Pentagon at 2 p.m. and run APPROXIMATELY every 30 minutes, with the last buses leaving Pentagon at 8:30 p.m.

Manassas and Gainesville: Service will begin at the Tysons Corner Metro Station at 2 p.m. and run APPROXIMATELY every 30 minutes, with the last buses leaving Tysons at 8:30 p.m. Gainesville/Haymarket passengers should board a Linton Hall Metro Express bus. Manassas passengers should board a Manassas Metro Express bus.

Montclair and South U.S. 1: Shuttles from the Route 234 Commuter Lot to the Montclair and South Route 1 areas will be available. Last shuttles leave the 234 Lot at 9:10 p.m.

Haymarket: Shuttle from the Cushing Road Commuter Lot to Haymarket will be available. Last shuttle leaves the Cushing Lot at 9:00 p.m.

Mark Center and Tysons-Woodbridge: No service.

OMNIRIDE METRO EXPRESS

Prince William Metro Express: Last bus leaves OmniRide Transit Center at 6:55 p.m. Last bus leaves Franconia-Springfield at 7:30 p.m. and ends at the OmniRide Transit Center at 8:00 p.m.

Manassas Metro Express and Linton Hall Metro Express: Service will begin at the Tysons Corner Metro Station at 2 p.m. and run APPROXIMATELY every 30 minutes, with the last buses leaving Tysons at 8:30 p.m.

OMNIRIDE LOCAL & CROSS COUNTY CONNECTOR

NO off-route trips will be served for any Local buses.

Woodbridge/Lake Ridge Local: Loop A buses will not operate today; last Loop B bus leaves the Transit Center at 7:25 p.m.

Dale City and Dumfries local: Last buses leave the Transit Center at 7:25 p.m. and go out of service at the end of the lines.

Route 1 local: Last bus leaves Quantico at 6:50 p.m. and goes out of service at Woodbridge VRE.

Manassas and Manassas Park Local: Last buses go out of service at Manassas Mall at 7:13 p.m.

Cross County-Connector: Buses will run as close to their regular schedule as possible.

VRE shuttle service is CANCELED for this afternoon/evening.

***

UPDATED 7 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 1: OmniRide commuter bus service is operating on its emergency service plan this morning due to a work stoppage by the union that represents its bus drivers.

OmniRide officials warned of a possibility of a work stoppage Wednesday night. It came to fruition this morning, resulting in some changes along bus routes, said Christine Rodrigo, OmniRide spokeswoman, in a news release.

In the Interstate-95 corridor, Express buses will operate to and from the Pentagon.

In the I-66 corridor, Express buses will operate to and from the Tysons Corner Metro Station.

Other OmniRide buses are expected to operate regular service.

Fares will be free on all buses that are not running regular service, the release said.

OmniRide passengers are encouraged to sign up for Rider Express alerts and monitor their website for updates.

OmniRide’s service contractor, First Transit, has been negotiating since March 2019 with the union that represents its bus drivers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, OmniRide spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

The AFSCME union and First Transit reached a tentative agreement in late June 2019, however the union later rejected that contract offer. On Tuesday, July 30, OmniRide learned AFSCME also rejected an offer to extend the current contract through Sept. 30 to allow for continued negotiations, Rodrigo said.

The contract expired Wednesday, July 31. 

 

 

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