Hundreds of bus drivers in the Phoenix area went on strike at midnight, which shut down public transportation and affected more than 57,000 riders in several area cities.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433, which represents about 400 drivers, rejected a final offer again on Wednesday from First Transit, the company that operates buses for the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority.
ATU 1433 President Bob Bean said the proposal was rejected early Wednesday afternoon.
The bus drivers' strike began at midnight and shut down 40 of Valley Metro's routes, primarily in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and express service from those communities to downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale. The 40 routes represent nearly half the company's total routes.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith released the following statement about the stoppage:
"I am extremely disappointed to hear that First Transit and Amalgamated Transit Union 1433 were unable to agree upon a contract before last night's deadline leaving our residents without bus transportation that many of them rely on.
"The contract is between the bus service provider and the bus drivers, but it is our residents who are suffering. I encourage the parties to work diligently towards a resolution. While the City of Mesa is not directly involved in the negotiations, we will do whatever we can to assist the process and find a solution."
Susan Tierney, of Valley Metro, said the transit service had been asking passengers to prepare for alternative travel options for nearly a week.
"We didn't know a strike would happen, but we hope people have backup plans in place," she said early Thursday morning.
She encouraged bus riders to contact friends, neighbors and family members for rides to work.
She also reminded riders the company offers car and van pools across the Valley. Valley Metro's light rail service can also add cars if demand warrants it, she said.
Officials at Discount Cab said they logged 1,000 trips per hour between 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. They said the 14,000 trips in a single Thursday set a record.
She said Valley Metro supervisors not affected by the work stoppage would be traveling the Valley to make people aware of the strike.