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Fairfax Connector buses parked at the West Ox Bus Facility (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) Fairfax Connector is now in its sixth consecutive day without service, as workers continue their strike for better pay, benefits and working conditions.

More than 600 bus drivers and mechanics ceased working last Thursday (Feb. 22) when their union — Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 — called for a strike after months of negotiations with Transdev, the private company that operates Fairfax Connector, for a new labor contract to replace one that expired on Nov. 30.

In a press release, the union said yesterday (Monday) that it met with Transdev but didn’t reach an agreement, stating that the company “failed to offer an acceptable deal,” particularly when it comes to retirement contributions.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has said Northern Virginia’s largest public bus system can’t resume service until the strike ends, forcing the Connector’s approximately 26,000 daily riders to find alternate travel options. The county has suggested teleworking, carpooling, walking, bicycling or using other transit, such as Metro and Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

County data indicates that most commuters drive to work, as public transportation usage fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 10% in 2019 to 5% in 2022. However, Fairfax Connector’s ridership appears to have bounced back last year, exceeding 2019 levels with 774,875 passengers as of June, according to the Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s transit data dashboard.

In addition to workers, the Connector provides a crucial travel option for many students, who can get a free pass if they’re in middle or high school that can also be used for Fairfax City’s CUE bus and, for select schools, Metrobus.

According to ATU Local 689, the next bargaining session isn’t scheduled until March 5, when federal mediators are expected to attend. This strike has already surpassed the last Connector work stoppage, which lasted four days in 2019.

Read more on FFXnow…

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