‘COLTS’ routes returning amid pandemic, union talks

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The need for people to get around Lackawanna County hasn’t gone away. The county’s transportation service has had to adapt, adjust and cut back here and there. These buses and routes made a comeback on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

“Now, we are going back to 100% service,” said Bob Fiume, executive director, County of Lackawanna Transportation System (COLTS).

Some changes debut for different COLTS routes, but most routes are back in service for those getting around Lackawanna County.

“Changes are always easy and as you change the routes now we’ll look at them we’ll watch them over the next few weeks, next month or two, and whatever we have to adjust, we will adjust them,” Fiume added.

Riders, like Dawn Johnson, have seen limited interruption to their commutes, but she says the pandemic could have been much worse for herself and other riders.

“While I’m not able to walk like they used to. I used to walk constantly. I’d be in a lot of trouble,” says Johnson.

Drivers with local ATU 168 have made sure these residents still got around.

“We’ve done the job we continue to do the job. We’re here for the residents of Lackawanna County,” says David Kaczmerik, union president and COLTS driver, local ATU 168.

Drivers like Kaczmerik say they’re proud to have worked through the pandemic. They have concerns about CARES Act funding that’s helped those back in the office, not those out on the front lines, locally.

“In Harrisburg, they gave $3 extra per hour, to the, to the drivers for a few months. And then in Erie, they gave $600 per week to the drivers, like the unemployment was giving, to the, to the people that were laid off.”

“Our office workers and management hat got hazard pay the board won’t give us hazard pay without opening our contract which I think is just awful,” says Rose Malinowski, COLTS driver.

While talks continue, drivers will continue to get behind the wheel and riders will be able to get around more.

“Everybody’s back. We’re ready to move full speed ahead,” Fiume noted.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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