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Bus strike over, things return to normal

Published: Sep. 17, 2015 at 7:09 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2015 at 12:01 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Thursday was the first day Sun Tran bus service was back to normal after a 42-day bus strike, and the Ronstadt Transit Center was pretty boring.

The crowds were small, the buses plentiful and things were moving smoothly.

All 43 routes were posted on the display boards along with the route times, but no one was bothering to read them.

They already knew which bus and which connection would be where and when.

It seemed pretty routine.

"I can make my doctor's appointments and don't have to wait in line," said one rider, who moved to Tucson from L.A. "This is great."

It didn't take long for riders to fall back into their routines which "we're thankful for," said another rider.

Out front, the bus riders union led by Casa Maria Director Brian Flagg drew a sparse crowd celebrating the end of the strike.

They demanded that this "never happen again," bellowed Cesar Agierre, a local education activist, through the microphone.

The union, a loosely formed group of bus riders, wants the city to get rid of the system and turn it over to an authority, another entity, maybe a nonprofit.

But not the RTA they said.

That's because the RTA has 10 members and Tucson, which has 92 percent of the riders, would have only one vote.

"That's not right," Flagg said.

Flagg and his group also want the city to have a dedicated funding source to pay for transit even if it means a sales tax increase,

Some of the drivers were seen unbuckling their seat belts, climbing out of their bus and shaking hands with passengers they had not seen in weeks.

There's hope that there is understanding and no malice towards the drivers.

"They cost some people their jobs," said Robert Leitner, adding riders are not likely "to forget soon."

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