London's latest bus strike is underway, with around 27,000 drivers said to have walked out at 12.01am in a dispute over parity of pay across the capital's bus companies.
Transport for London (TfL) has said that fewer than a third of normal services are running today and night bus services operating into Wednesday morning will also be affected, though tomorrow's will be back to normal. Find out if your service is affected here. Brixton station appears to have been affected particularly badly, with larger-than-usual crowds trying to get in and Twitter users describing it (perhaps somewhat melodramatically) as 'basically the apocalypse' and 'the end of the world'.
The BBC's Tom Edwards tweeted that London Mayor Boris Johnson has said that the strikes would result in fewer routes and some drivers on lower pay. GLA Conservative transport spokesman Richard Tracey asked striking drivers to reconsider and go back to work, calling for New York-style mediation between bus drivers and their employers:
“This sort of strike action, designed to bring London to a standstill, is archaic and belongs in the past, withdrawing services will only hurt commuters and businesses. In this case, it’s a fact of life that people doing similar jobs for different companies get different amounts of pay, so the call for standard wages across the board seems unrealistic. If you’re a bus driver, you provide an essential service. If you’re thinking of striking, please reconsider and go to work.”
London Assembly Labour transport spokesperson Val Shawcross said:
“Today’s dispute is regrettable, but not surprising given the fact that London’s bus operating companies treat drivers so unfairly.
"We call on the Mayor to intervene to get staff and employers around the table and to look for a mechanism which will allow TfL to ensure more fair treatment and better terms and conditions of employees within the bus industry.”
The Mayor has also criticised the turnout figures for the ballot — TfL says that just 16% of bus drivers voted for industrial action, while London Assembly Labour gives the figure as 84% which is quite a discrepancy. We're wondering how both sides did their maths.
Bus drivers in the Unite union were balloted for strikes in December 2014, with the first going ahead on 29 December. A further planned strike for 5 January was called off, but the two sides failed to resolve their differences, leading to today's walkout. Londoners appear to have more sympathy than for their tube-driving brethren — according to a survey of 1,645 passengers by Mass1, 66% backed equal pay for drivers.
TfL says bus tickets will be accepted on the underground, DLR, London Overground and London Tramlink and encourage stranded commuters to walk or cycle. Was your commute affected by the bus strike? Tell us in the comments.