The union representing Metro Bus drivers says Monday's absenteeism wasn't an organized sickout.
Nearly 100 bus drivers didn't report to work yesterday -- ten-times the number who might miss on an ordinary day. But yesterday wasn't ordinary in St. Louis. It was Opening Day at Busch Stadium. There has been speculation that the drivers, disgruntled over the lack of progress in contract negotiations, may have been trying to disrupt traffic heading downtown for the Cardinals' home opener.
If that was their aim, it wasn't very effective. Metro Transit CEO John Nations says there were significant delays on Missouri bus lines yesterday, but MetroLink and Illinois bus lines weren't affected. Since most public transit rider heading for Busch Stadium use MetroLink, they saw few delays.
Nations says the transit agency called in extra drivers in an effort to keep the buses rolling. But many commuters still saw significant delays. On some lines, buses were running an hour or more behind.
The transit agency and the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the bus drivers have been locked in contract talks for months. A spokesman for Local 788 tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that drivers weren't encouraged by the union to call in sick, but may have acted in frustration over the slow pace of contract talks.
There's more trouble for the much-delayed Loop Trolley project. A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday aims to derail the $43 million dollar project on the grounds that the transportation development district set up to fund it is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit claims that giving nonresident property owners votes based on acreage owned violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Residents were given a single vote.
Construction of the streetcar line between the University City Library and the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park is already more than a year behind schedule and the Federal Transit Administration has warned that the area could lose the $22 million "urban circulator" grant it was awarded in 2010. Developers say that would doom the project.
The suit names the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, the Loop Trolley Company, the Metro Transit Agency, the cities of St. Louis and University City, St. Louis County and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.