The Orange County Transportation Authority and Teamsters Local 952 agreed on a new, three-year contract Monday that both sides said hopefully means an end to driver layoffs and bus service cuts.

An OCTA statement said the contract “will allow Orange County’s public transit system to begin emerging from the worst financial crisis in its history.”

The poor economy has forced 156 coach operator layoffs and 44 administration layoffs at OCTA in less than two years.

The pact, retroactive to May 1, holds salaries for 903 drivers at current levels for at least two years, but leaves the door open to renew contract talks in the third year if the economy improves.

Currently, beginning drivers earn $15.22 an hour, and the top pay is $23.92, plus medical and retirement benefits.

Union members voted over the weekend to approve the contract, and the OCTA board voted for it Monday.

Although salaries will remain the same for two years, if revenue received by the district rises at least 10 percent above current estimates, contract talks can be reopened the third year.

In June, an Orange County grand jury chastised county, state and federal officials for allowing local bus transportation to seriously deteriorate while they promoted expensive buildings, like the planned rail station in Anaheim, and a statewide high-speed rail system.

Numerous bus routes were cut back over the past two years because of the serious economic conditions. But last month, the OCTA board approved a $1.2 billion budget that didn’t call for more cuts in bus service.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that administrative staff were included in this contract agreement. We regret the error.


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