Judge’s Ruling Puts Bus Negotiations On Hold
By Miriam Rosenberg
“[The court] ordered us to stop negotiations until a decision is litigated,” said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg. “Both the city and the bus companies want to continue negotiating.”
Last week’s ruling was made in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of 200 nonunion employees at the bus companies.
The result of the Hart’s decision is that the city must settle the issues of worker’s job security and pension benefits before negotiations can proceed for the takeover.
Barowitz told The Wave that the city is appealing. In the meantime, a stay in the judge’s decision is being sorted. The judge refused to grant a request for negotiations to continue while it is before the court.
The recent court order puts another glitch in the over two-year struggle to bring the private bus companies under the MTA umbrella.
“It slows us down,” continued Barowitz. “Both sides have agreed … we’re just ironing out [details].”
Jerome Cooper, chairman of the Transit Alliance – under which the four companies fall, also said an agreement is close at hand.
“While our attorneys are still reviewing [the] decision, we can report that the companies of the Transit Alliance are close to concluding a lengthy and complicated negotiation with the City of New York for the transfer of our private bus operations to the MTA,” said Cooper in a statement. “We remain committed to finalizing an agreement in a timely manner and look forward to working with the city and the MTA to make this transition as seamless as possible for our riders in Queens and Brooklyn.”
On January 3 of this year, Liberty Lines Express, followed by Queens Surface Corporation on February 27 and – more recently – New York Bus Service on July 1, became part of MTA Bus Co.
Jamaica Bus, Green Bus Lines, Triboro Coach and Command Bus were due to be transferred to the MTA on July 31; but sticking points in the negotiations caused the Bloomberg administration to ask for an extension of the operating authorities for the bus companies. The new deadline for the completion of the takeover is November 30.