RTC offering Uber vouchers during strike

The bus drivers and the firm hired to manage them reached an impasse and the drivers went on strike for fixed routes. Paratransit is not affected.
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 12:40 PM PDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 2:42 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - UPDATE AUG. 6: The RTC announced Friday that riders who need emergency transportation can get Uber vouchers through August 31.

The RTC Washoe-Uber Emergency Rides voucher is valid for two Uber rides with a maximum of $20 per Uber ride. Any amount over $20 will be automatically charged to the user’s debit or credit card on file on their Uber account.

Uber vouchers will expire on August 31, 2021.

Eligible rides can be taken 24/7.

Eligible trips must start and end in the Reno-Sparks area. Trips that begin or end outside of the service area are not eligible.

For information and to request a voucher call the RTC Mobility Center at (775) 348-0477 option 2.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) confirms to KOLO 8 News Now that their bus drivers have gone on strike.

On the RTC website, a service disruption notice reads, “We have been notified that, due to a labor strike, transportation has been interrupted. Keolis apologizes for any disruptions this causes for passengers as well as those waiting for service. Please check back for more information as it becomes available. Thank you.”

The drivers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 533 are actually employed by Keolis.

Local 533 President Gary Watson says the strike involves about 200 drivers, maintenance workers, dispatchers, utility workers, support service workers and road supervisors.

Watson says the issue is a proposal by Keolis to replace the union healthcare plan with a non-union plan. “They are wanting to eliminate their health care benefits, their Teamsters healthcare benefits from employees who are essential workers and who have worked through this pandemic, putting their lives on the line and the community and their passengers.”

The strike affects the RTC’s fixed route service. The RTC’s para transit service is not affected.

An RTC spokesperson says the RTC and Keolis are working to get passengers to their destinations.

In a statement provided to KOLO 8 News Now, Keolis Vice President of Marketing Jenny Fahlbush said, “Keolis is committed to providing safe and reliable transit for passengers, and to providing a safe and comfortable workplace for employees. While today’s actions by Teamsters Local 533 are disappointing, Keolis will continue to work with the employees and the RTC to provide passengers a predictable level of service, and continue to work towards agreement on a CBA.”

An RTC representative provided a statement to KOLO 8 News Now:

“RTC is extremely disappointed with Teamsters’ decision to strike. RTC expected both Keolis and Teamsters to negotiate in good faith. RTC is satisfied that Keolis has been attempting to negotiate in good faith, but does not believe the same can be said about Teamsters. Teamsters has been threatening to strike during Hot August Nights since at least May of this year, before even sitting down at the bargaining table with Keolis. Teamsters agreed to sit down for a single one hour meeting at the beginning of June, and then refused to sit down for another meeting until just last week. On Monday, July 26, Keolis also proposed additional meetings but all dates were rejected by the Teamsters.”

The RTC is not a party to the negotiations between the Teamsters Union and Keolis.

The RTC encourages customers to make alternative transportation plans during the strike, but also provided a list of contingency service as follows:

Rides on routes that will be operating will be free (no charge) to customers during the strike. Transit customers with current transit passes will be given extensions. Details of this process will be announced in the coming days at and RTC Customer Service.

Riders are advised to use these contingency zones at these locations using RTC FlexRIDE or RTC ACCESS transit vans. To assist the drivers, please motion them to alert them you are seeking transit service.

  • Sparks Contingency Zone

· Route 21

· Route 26

  • North Virginia Street – Stead Contingency Zone

· Route 7

  • Somersett – Verdi Contingency Zone

· Route 3CC / Route 3CL

· Route 4

  • I-580 East Contingency Zone

· Route 12

· Route 14 outer extent

· Route 18 outer extent

· Of these three routes (12, 14, & 18), one route may be short turned at GSR to handle casino and Walmart transit customers.

· Route 54

· Route 56

  • Idlewild – Lakeside Contingency Zone

· Route 6

· Route 16

· Route 9, maybe expanded to help serve the southern end of Route 9.

For emergency transportation options call Customer Service at 775-348-RIDE.

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