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OCTA Board OKs New Agreement with Coach Operators

The OCTA Board of Directors on Tuesday approved a new contract with its coach operators, ensuring that buses will keep running for the thousands of Orange County passengers who rely upon bus service.

The new three-year agreement was ratified by members of the coach operators’ union, Teamsters Local 952, earlier this week and got final approval from OCTA directors during a special meeting on Tuesday morning.

“We are very happy that an agreement has been reached that rewards our outstanding coach operators for the essential work they do, while remaining responsible to Orange County taxpayers,” said OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy, also the Mayor of Orange. “Most importantly, this agreement means that OC Bus service will keep running for passengers who count on us to get to work, to school and elsewhere throughout Orange County.”

Last week, OCTA and the union struck a tentative agreement after meeting on approximately 40 previous occasions. OCTA requested, and union leaders agreed, to bring in a mediator to help reach a resolution.

OC Bus is essential to ensuring the public can get to work and has access to healthcare, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. Service is also vital to students to get to and from school. In the past six months, more than 1 million trips have been taken on OC Bus with OCTA’s Youth Ride Free and college pass programs. In addition, approximately 85% of riders use OC Bus as their primary means of transportation.

The new agreement calls for an immediate 4% raise, which is not retroactive, and a one-time $2,000 signing bonus made possible through federal COVID-19 relief funds. It includes a 5% raise in the second and third years of the contract. After the third year of the contract, the top rate will be $33.74, equaling just under $70,000 a year. In addition, OCTA has added guaranteed minimum break times on each shift.

OCTA’s existing contract with the union, which represents approximately 600 coach operators directly employed by OCTA, expired April 30, 2021. OCTA met with the union leaders over the past year to negotiate the new contract and enhanced its offer to the union multiple times to help resolve disputes over break time and wages, among other issues. The new contract runs through April 2024.

For more information on OC Bus service, visit www.octa.net.

This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.