Ryan Jones – County Connection

County Connection Operators Approve 3-Yr Offer

Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCCTA) has reached an agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 1605, who voted 54% in favor of extending their contract with an economic package proposed by CCCTA.  

CCCTA’s Board of Directors has a long history of offering comparable packages to all of its labor partners. Upon receiving a request for an offer from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District Lodge No. 190 (IAM) the same offer was made to the other two unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) Local 856 and ATU, Local 1605. The ATU, Local 1605 received the offer on October 27th and members voted on December 20th. In order to expedite the process, the Board held a special meeting on December 21st to ratify the contract, which was set to expire on January 31, 2023. With the needed simple majority member approval, the contract is now extended through January 31, 2026. 

For the agreed upon terms, the ATU was offered the same contract as that of IAM and the Teamsters, with both approving the offer, unanimously, in November 2022. ATU members now have a 3-year extension package and a five percent (5%) raise in year one, which includes a includes a $2,500 tax-free payment up front. In year two, ATU members will receive an increase of four percent (4%), followed by three percent (3%) in the final year.

Chair of the Board, Amy Worth, said of the agreements, “The continued success of CCCTA depends on the stability, mutual understanding, and respect shared between its management and their represented labor partners. Now more than ever, the services offered to Central Contra Costa are crucial to the residents within the County Connection service area.” Worth added, “To have all three unions approve a 3-year contract well ahead of the contracts expiring, is heartening and tells me this public agency is on the right path forward and ensures continued service reliability for our residents.”

CCCTA Reaches Unanimous Union Approval – 3 Year Extension

November 2022 – Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCCTA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District Lodge No. 190, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) Local 856 approved extending existing work rules with an economic package proposed by CCCTA. 

Both unions approached the General Manager requesting contract extensions, well in advance of their respective contract term end date, to avoid unnecessary negotiations. Recognizing the long-standing positive working relationships between management and the unions, CCCTA’s Board of Directors approved a package that was unanimously accepted by all members of the IAM and Teamsters Unions.

For the terms, the Machinists and Teamsters agreed upon a 3-year extension package with a 3-month early adoption. Both unions accepted a five percent (5%) raise in year one, which includes a $2,500 tax-free payment up front. In year two, CCCTA offered to increase the wage rate for all Bargaining Unit Employees (represented the IAM and Teamsters) by four percent (4%). And in year three, CCCTA offered to increase the wage rate by three percent (3%). All other articles, sections, attachments, terms and provisions of the most recent Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) will remain in effect for the duration of the agreement. 

Bill Churchill, General Manager of CCCTA, affirmed, “I look forward to the fruitful collaboration with all of our labor partners, in the years to come.” Churchill, who presented the 3-year deal, added, “Together we will continue on the road to recovery and improve our communities.”

Free Rides in October on All Routes

Ride free in October on County Connection. (Image of a cartoon bus flying through the sky.)
  • All County Connection buses and paratransit are free to ride for the entire month of October, no payment required for any passenger. 
  • A month of free rides is made possible by federal stimulus funding and is intended to not only help essential workers save money but encourage commuters to take public transit. 
  • While public transit ridership numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels, County Connection has doubled its passenger count in the past two years. 

Have you heard? County Connection is offering free rides to all who board one of our buses along any route, as well as paratransit. A month of fare-free riding this October is just one of the ways County Connection, and other public transit agencies like WestCAT, hope to encourage more people in Contra Costa County to choose public transportation as a commute option.  

During Fall 2019, average monthly passenger levels were over 300,000 compared to the fall of 2020 when there were fewer than 100,000 monthly passengers, down by 71% from the previous year. By comparison, in August 2022, there’s been some uptick, with roughly 200,000 bus passengers.  

Infographic of monthly passenger averages by year, 2019-2022. Image reflects roughly 300k passengers per month in 2019, 100k in 2020, 150k in 2021, and 200k in 2022.

Although daily routines are returning to what they were before the pandemic, public transit ridership remains low. “County Connection is not the only bus agency that saw a dramatic dip in ridership,” says Bill Churchill, General Manager of County Connection. “Though an industry-wide trend, we are proud to have doubled our passenger count in the past two years.” 

Still, the commuter landscape has changed—maybe forever as more office-based work allows for flexible and on-going work schedules Those who do not have the option to work from home are choosing to drive alone on their commute, leaving many public transit routes with very little ridership.  

Federal funding has been made available for transit agencies to apply toward operational costs as well as a stimulus for increasing ridership. “We plan our routes and frequency of bus service based on our passenger counts,” explained Pranjal Dixit, Manager of Planning, “and travel patterns are still irregular.” In spring 2021, County Connection made a major service change to better match service levels to rider demand, which included shifting resources from peak-hour commute routes in order to preserve essential local service. 

County Connection serves Central Contra Costa County and is especially critical for the essential workforce who may not have any other commute option, as was evident during the height of the pandemic when 20% of passengers never stopped riding. In addition, given recent increases in traffic congestion, gas prices, and climate change impacts, public transit provides a greener, cost-effective alternative to driving alone. Free rides on County Connection will not only help essential workers save money, but hopefully persuade others to get back on transit–perhaps beyond October. 

For more information on County Connection routes serving your area, visit countyconnection.com or call Customer Service at (925) 676-1976.