Good news tonight for commuters who depend on the Palmetto Breeze. Starting Thursday morning, the buses will be rolling like normal, expect for two routes. Bus routes were disrupted Monday afternoon when drivers went on strike.
While the board said they didn't have enough drivers yesterday, they executive director says some of their staff members and mechanics with CDL licenses will be driving the routes and many of their part time drivers are also doing some additional routes to help out. While things will get back to normal for passengers, it's a different story for the bus drivers.
Before this afternoon's late word that buses will run tomorrow with other drivers, we caught up with three bus drivers who were fired after going on strike Monday afternoon. That strike and subsequent firing halted nine bus routes, leaving nearly 300 people without transportation to work this morning.
"No I did not want this to happen, I need to help my family, support my family, just like my passengers have to support their families," said fired bus driver Mary Cook. "I did not want this at all, I just wanted a pay increase."
But instead, the fired drivers spent the day going to the unemployment office and trying to find another job. While these bus drivers say they're worried about what they're going to do, they're just as concerned about their passengers.
"It's not just about the drivers, it's passengers, it's the different businesses there, some of the businesses had to come to Allendale this morning to pick up the passengers for work," said fired bus driver Carolyn Rollins.
"One lady I talked with, she doesn't have a way to work if the bus does not go," said Cook. "She does not have a way to work."
"I had a young lady call me, she just got a job, she just had a baby. She doesn't have any transportation to get to work and the bus line is her only transportation," said Rollins.
These three bus drivers are planning to appeal their termination.
"We are concerned and we could go back to work if we could get it in black and white that they will give us a raise in not $2, than a dollar," said fired bus driver Emmazine Mole.
The bus drivers have three days from the day they were terminated to appeal in writing. Some of them are planning to appeal and say they just want a chance to work this all out. The executive director at Palmetto Breeze says they have had quite a few applicants already come forward for their jobs.
The bus company is giving free fares to riders on those nine bus routes that were affected by the walkout until September 1. As we said all of the buses are now up and running like normal tomorrow except for two. Route 501 will be limited and Route 650 will not run.