Can you imagine what would happen if local police took to picket lines and prison and jail guards followed suit? Simultaneously?
If firefighters abandoned their station houses?
If 911 operators refused to come to work?
If teachers walked out of their classrooms?
Oh, wait. That’s right. School teachers strike all the time, mostly demanding higher pay.
Well, add transit workers to the list.
Some transit workers in Northern Virginia are jawing about their pay or lack thereof. Indeed, one bus driver told WRC-TV (Channel 4) that he and his coworkers plan to strike later this week if they don’t get a raise in pay that’s comparable to the cost of living.
Unfortunately, that action would mean that riders of Metrobus and the Fairfax Connector would be inconvenienced. What a bother for negotiators on both sides.
Both sides, you say?
Yes. See, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority runs Metrobus and contracts the Fairfax Connector services to a private firm. And unions don’t like privatizing what’s historically a government workforce.
And that’s why Metrobus workers, who began striking at the beginning of this month, are now rubbing off on their Fairfax Connector brethren. They’re cut from the same cloth.
What’s Metro to do?
Well, the good folks who oversee Metro have a lot on their long board table, having just unveiled their to-do budget last week.
The list includes fare increases, capital projects and longer service hours. The board also is considering eliminating some bus routes, which likely would include some bus drivers losing out on Metrorail jobs, because you must have bus experience before driving on the rails.
That’s on bus drivers’ and union minds, too.
So, where’s the money for capital raises and benefits, capital improvements and later Metrorail hours going to come from?
Where else? Fare increases.
The Metro Board must raise bus fares and rail fares if it would to reclaim a solid measure of the territory it lost while curbing service to make mandatory upgrades and safety changes — which, again, were mandatory.
For certain, motorists who ride a Metro train from say, Prince George’s County to their job in Northern Virginia know paying Metro a mere $7 per weekend is a godsend, especially considering they could only average two gallons of gas for the same price.
And if weekend Metrorail fares are converted, as proposed, to a flat $2? Well, such a bargain would hand tax-and-spend Democrats another reason to increase the region’s gas taxes.
Part of the bargaining problem with public-sector unions is the public ends up looking like the Monopoly guy, with empty pockets and his hands out.
Metro Board members need a stiff jolt — a bolt of reality that hits them and taxpayers.
Just as motorists must pay for gas, passengers must pay for public transportation (even if the service is conducted by a private firm).
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected].
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