AC Transit riders found themselves caught in the crossfire of a contract battle between the transit agency's bus drivers and management Tuesday when departures on at least a dozen transbay lines were canceled at the last minute during rush hour.

A number of runs from San Francisco's Transbay Terminal on lines BA, C, E, F, LA, H, J, O, OX, P, V and W were canceled, according to information posted on AC Transit's website, on transit information site 511.org and on Twitter about 3:30 p.m., leaving little time for commuters to find alternatives for the trip home.

Bus driver absenteeism has run about 15 to 20 percent since July 18 when a new contract was imposed on workers, according to AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson.

The normal rate is 9 percent, Johnson said.

As the labor dispute continues, riders dependent on AC Transit would be wise to check the district's website, http://actransit.org, and transit information site 511.org, or call 511.org from a cell phone to stay aware of cancellations, said Sam Singer, a public relations consultant hired by AC Transit.

Singer said the dispute could continue for "a number of months."

AC Transit says it needs $15.7 million in concessions from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents 1,750 AC Transit employees, to help deal with a projected $56.2 million budget deficit over the next two years.



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