On Thursday morning, some riders of Orange County Transportation Authority buses showed up at their regular stops as they hoped to make their way to work or school.

The buses, however, never appeared to pick up their passengers, as the union that represents bus mechanics, machinists and other technicians went on strike Wednesday.

OCTA and Teamsters Local 952, which represents about 150 workers, are at odds over wages, benefits and health care.

They avoided a strike last month at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, but on Wednesday, negotiations again broke down.

On Thursday morning, union members picketed OCTA bus maintenance yards as some commuters waited for a ride that would never come.

Teamsters members picketed the Orange County Transportation Authority on Nov. 3, 2022. (KTLA)
Teamsters members picketed the Orange County Transportation Authority on Nov. 3, 2022. (KTLA)

Rebecca Lopez, who normally rides the bus to work while her daughter, Hannah, takes the bus to school, said she was working to get a taxi, Lyft or Uber amid a “frustrating” situation.

“This morning when we waited for our first bus, nothing came. And now we’re at our second bus stop we would take in the morning, and no bus either,” Lopez told KTLA.

OCTA spokesperson Joel Zlotnik said they’re offering mechanics a 14.25% raise over the next three years, but union Secretary-Treasurer Eric Jimenez said the real issue is rising health care costs.

“If we accept the offer as-is from the company right now, we’ll be going over $400 a month, possibly up to a $500 per month payment. With inflation, cost of food, cost of gas, cost of housing, it just isn’t sustainable for our members,” said Jimenez.

Zlotnik said the agency “did not expect this to happen.”

“We thought we were making progress, and this is incredibly disappointing for the people who depend on our buses,” he said.

In a Wednesday press release, the union said it was OCTA that “walked away from the table on Monday” after “continually refus[ing] to bargain in good faith and disrespect[ing] us by walking out of negotiations.”

Zlotnik told KTLA on Wednesday that OCTA hoped to resume negotiations.

“This is only going to hurt the people who can least afford to be hurt: our bus riders,” he said.

Newsom has the legal authority to force both sides back to the table, but as of Thursday morning, that has not yet happened.