Metro-East News

Monday’s Redbird Express has been canceled. Metro can’t assure it won’t happen again

Bi-State Development and MetroBus and MetroLink drivers union negotiations

Bi-State Development and the union representing MetroBus drivers and MetroLink train operators have been negotiating for a new contract. There has been disagreement over the length of the deal.
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Bi-State Development and the union representing MetroBus drivers and MetroLink train operators have been negotiating for a new contract. There has been disagreement over the length of the deal.

Cardinals fans hoping to take the Redbird Express to tonight’s game against the Brewers are out of luck. It may be a sign of more to come.

Metro announced Monday afternoon that the evening’s Redbird Express shuttles would be canceled due to staffing issues.

The Redbird Express is a shuttle service taking Cardinal fans from 134 St. Clair Square, Fairview Heights, to Busch Stadium throughout the evening and brings fans back after the game.

St. Clair County Transit District Managing Director Ken Sharkey apologized to customers and said he could not guarantee it would be the only instance.

“While we sincerely hope this is only time that the Red Bird Express Service will be impacted by Metro Transit operators calling off work, we cannot guarantee that,” he said.

Sharkie said riders who planned to take the Redbird Express can look to the MetroLink for another convenient option to get to tonight’s game, scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m.

The cancellation follows another in a series of four days where MetroLink and MetroBuses have been delayed due to a high number of drivers taking off or declining taking extra shifts. Today, MetroBuses and MetroLink shuttles have been delayed or canceled altogether.

As of 6 a.m. today, 41 percent of Illinois MetroBus trips were being missed. In a release, Metro said even with mechanics and managers driving there is not sufficient manpower to operate all routes through the evening.

The delays stem from ongoing labor contract negotiations between Metro and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

“I regret that these actions are a burden to our customers and a blow to the credibility of Metro Transit and the important service we all work hard to deliver,” said Metro Executive Director Jessica Mefford-Miller in a press release. “Furthermore, these actions do not move us closer to ratifying new labor contracts. We continue to negotiate in good faith with the ATU and together we’ve made significant progress.”

Mefford-Miller said the negotiations are nearing their end. Since June 2018 Metro and the union have met 18 times, most recently on Aug. 12.

A new contract proposal is set to be proposed early this week and another meeting is set for Aug. 23.

“We remain committed to negotiating contracts that provide our employees represented by the ATU and IBEW a meaningful wage and benefit package that provides fair compensation for the hard work they do each day, and can be supported by our available funding resources,” she said.

For Red Bird Express Service updates, visit scctd.org or call 618-628-8090.

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Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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