Documented by Jackie Schuster
What happened: After six weeks without public transit because of a worker strike, Visalia Mayor Brian Poochigian said the city will seek to have a new contract in place next year.
He opened Monday night’s Visalia City Council meeting by reading a statement acknowledging the agreement reached on Friday with Transdev workers represented by Teamsters Local 517, which provides transportation services for Visalia Transit Systems and SEKI Bus Operations in Sequoia National Park.
“The Visalia City Council is thankful that transit service has resumed for the citizens of Visalia, Exeter, Farmersville and Goshen,” he said. “We recognize that the service disruption was difficult for many people in our communities and we are truly sorry for the difficulties at this cost for 42 days.”
He continued, saying that the city has pledged to release a new request for proposal by the end of the year, with the intent of having a new contract for transit service in place by mid-2024.
“We believe that a new contract will provide more flexibility for a contractor to be able to provide quality service in light of the significant inflation that has occurred,” he said.
Later during public comment, Visalia resident Maria Guillén said that she believed if everyone cared a little more it would not have taken 42 days of the workers striking before they got a fair contract.
“What I would hope is that we all learned some lessons from this strike,” she said. “And I would like to ask you, which were those lessons that you learned, and not just in regards to how city government runs, but what it means to actually be a worker here in the city and how you can help us all improve how we treat each other?”
And also: In an earlier work session, council members voted to table a discussion before moving forward with an ordinance that would regulate pedicab operation in the city.
Visalia Police Captain Luma Fahoum said the city has been in contact with a business interested in operating a cycle pub-type business in downtown Visalia, but before moving forward they would need to approve an ordinance and decide whether to allow alcohol to be consumed by passengers.
After some discussion, the council decided to discuss the possibility with businesses in the downtown area before moving forward.
The ordinance would require background checks for pedicab drivers, permits, licenses and a business tax certificate. It would also require pedicabs to operate on a fixed route basis, with set beginning and end points.
Up next: The Visalia City Council will meet again on Sept. 5.