The area's major union of transit employees will be oppose a Mongtomery County government proposal to run a county-operated feeder bus service to the future Silver Spring Metrorail station, the union president says.
The county-operated buses would replace some Metrobus service in the Silver Spring area and would be driven by nonunion personnel paid less than the union-scale wages. Service would begin when rail operations are extended from the Rhode Island Avenue station in Northeast Washington to Silver Spring, probably next November.
Although the new feeder service would be independent of the regional Metro transit authority, service would be coordinated with Metro trains and the proposed Metro budget for the next fiscal year takes advantage of some cost reductions the county-operated service would produce.
"We're going to have to fight that," George R. Davis, president of Local 689 of the Amalgamated County proposals. Davis said he has contacted the union's international headquarters to enlist support.
Davis said he would base his opposition on the lower pay and less job protection of the county employees, and on the possibility that other local governments in the Washington area might introduce similar service, undermining the union.
Local 689 has about 4,800 members, including 3,500 bus drivers and subway train operators. It represents workers on all division of Metro except that serving southern Prince George's County.
Montgomery County Executive James P. Gleason, who asked the County Council last month to approve the purchase of 40 small and medium-sized buses to start the feeder service, said the union's opposition would be unfortunate.
"Our intention is to lower the overall costs (of the feeder bus service) not only to residents of Montgomery County but elsewhere in the region by running a more efficient service," Gleason said. "It does not in any way threaten any existing union membership, and is not designed for that purpose."
Gleason contended that the introduction of Metrorail service to the suburbs would expand the use of public transit and improve the condition of union members, even with the county-operated service.
A feeder bus fare of 25 cents is planned, compared withh a minimum Metrobus fare of 40 cents.
the County Council has scheduled a public hearing for 8 p.m. Jan. 13 at Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, on Gleason's request for a $1.7 million appropriation to buy the 40 buses and to expand the county vehicle repair shop at Forest Glen.
Davis said he expects to testify against the county plan at that hearing.
The county-operated feeder bus service would be an expansion of the existing minibus service operated by the county in the Silver Spring-Takoma Park and Gaithersburg areas. It has been given the nickname, "Ride-On."
The feeder bus service would replace an estimated 15 per cent of the existing Metrobus service in Montgomery County and if successful would replace Metrobus service in other areas as Metrorail service is extended. Metrobus service on radial arterialsand on major cross-county routes would be retained.