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Milwaukee Bus Driver's Strike Set to Begin at 3 A.M. on Wednesday

Michelle Maternowski

It appears all-day federal mediation on Tuesday failed to break the contract impasse between union bus drivers and the Milwaukee County Transit System. So the drivers plan to walk off the job at three o'clock Wednesday morning, after buses transport thousands of people who ride to Summerfest.

On Monday, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 rejected the latest contract offer from the transit system. Union leaders say members particularly oppose the system's desire to hire part-time drivers.

The transit system estimates it provides 150,000 rides per day, with many people using Milwaukee County buses to get to and from work. The system has expanded routes in recent months, to carry more people from the city of Milwaukee to job sites in suburban industrial parks.

Several members of the Milwaukee County Board have said a strike would cause serious problems for people who rely on mass transit to get not only to work, but to stores and appointments.

In addition, thousands of suburban commuters use the county buses to travel to downtown Milwaukee, and this week, to Summerfest, the huge music festival at the lakefront.

UWM put together a list of alternative ways for students and faculty to get to campus, which includes driving, biking and ridesharing.

Some taxi companies are reportedly expecting a sharp increase in business, if the dispute between the drivers and transit system continues.

The last time local bus drivers walked off the job was in the late 1970s.

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