by Lorraine Longhi
If you arrive past 10 a.m. to Mesa’s Main Street and Sycamore light rail station, you will be hard pressed to find an open the space: the spacious lot will already be filled to the brim with cars.
Students, tourists and businessmen and women alike all utilize the crowded Mesa stop to get to their final destinations throughout the greater Phoenix area.
With ten cities comprising the Phoenix metropolitan area, the area’s commuter tailored busses and 20-mile light rail track have been put to extensive use by its inhabitants.
For Jentry Lanza, a sophomore at Arizona State University, the Valley Metro system provides a cheap, efficient way for her to commute from her parents’ home in Tempe.
“I feel like our transit system is a very convenient way to get you where you want to go, especially around ASU with the addition of the light rail,” said Lanza.
However, Lanza is just one of many individuals who were inconvenienced last month due to the six-day bus strike Phoenix wide bus strike by Veolia Transportation Services.
Bus drivers for Veolia went on strike March 10 after engaging in a labor dispute with the city.
According to Neal Young, Public Transit Director for Phoenix, only 14-30 percent of routes were being serviced three days into the strike.
The delays prompted a fierce backlash from individuals throughout the city, many of who were unable to go to work or school.
“The bus strike really inconvenienced me because a lot of the buses around ASU were running off schedule,” said Lanza. “I had to wait much longer to get to where I wanted to go or arrange other methods of transportation.”
Matthew Lobato, a student at Phoenix College, said his weekly commuting routine was also severely altered because of the strike.
“As a result of the strike I had to take a different route than my usual one and I had to walk certain places,” said Phoenix College student Matthew Lobato.
Mayor Greg Stanton urged Veolia workers and the city to work together in coming up with a solution to bring a swift resolution to the strike.
“At some point you need to put aside your short-term self-interest and look at the greater community interest,” said Stanton. “For so many of the riders of our transit system, they don’t have an alternative form of transportation.”
Stanton stressed his empathy with the riders affected by the strike, hearkening back to his own experiences with public transportation growing up in West Phoenix.
“My family could not have made it economically without a solid City of Phoenix bus system,” said Stanton. “To this mayor, a bus strike that affects the people of this city is something I take very, very personally.
Though the city has made great strides in regards to implementing and using public transportation over the last few years, the strike has had an indelible impact on several riders.
“I’ve learned that one of the negative things about commuting is that it takes longer to use public transportation and you can easily be inconvenienced by things such as this strike,” said Lanza.