Transit Strike Would Have Been Hard On Commuters, Merchants
12/16/2002 09:34 PM
Transport union workers, commuters and merchants throughout the five boroughs and beyond are breathing a sigh of relief following Monday evening's transit contract settlement.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
The MTA and members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 reached an agreement Monday to avert a massive strike that would have stranded millions of commuters at the height of the holiday season.
With temperatures dipping toward the 20s, a strike would have meant a cold commute for those who had been planning to set off to work by foot if necessary. In 1980, the last time the city's transit workers walked off the job, tens of thousands of commuters walked to work over the city's bridges.
The effects of a strike would have been particularly debilitating for the city's retail merchants, who are already suffering from a sluggish economy and who typically rely on holiday shoppers for the bulk of their annual profits.
The city comptroller's office estimates that a strike would have cost the city $$6 million in lost bus and subway fares and $$5 million in police overtime for each day transit workers were off the job.
City officials say a strike would have also had a chilling effect on tourism. New York stood to lose as much as $$80 million in tourism dollars for each day a strike went on, according to estimates.
“The message that (a strike) would send around the country is that New York City tolerates strikes,” Christyne Lategano Nicholas, president of the city’s official tourist board, said Monday. “That’s really dangerous, because you have conventions and groups thinking of coming here."
A strike would also have effected the city's school system, which was prepared to delay the start of classes by two hours if a strike was called.
In preparation for a possible strike, the city spent several million dollars preparing a series of contingency plans that included extensive traffic restrictions, carpool plans, additional ferries and commuter rail trains, and special taxicab services.
However, the possibility of a strike did provide a temporary boon to the city's hospitality business. Thousands of commuters packed Manhattan hotels Sunday night in order to guarantee themselves easy access to their workplaces.