LEESBURG, Va. (DC News Now) — It’s been two months without most commuter bus routes in Loudoun County, Virginia.

On Wednesday, the company that runs the system said it’s reached a negotiation impasse with the union representing workers, meaning no further progress is possible.

However, the union says it’s still trying to negotiate.

While local and handicap-accessible routes are running, most of the commuter bus service has been absent in Loudoun County since January.

Keolis, the contractor that runs them, has now implemented what they call their last and best agreement.

“It makes for a pretty exhausting commute between working you know, your eight, nine, 10-hour day and then also commuting,” said Amanda Goldin.

Goldin is one of many commuters who rely on the bus to get to D.C. but is struggling with no commuter service.

“I would much rather pay more for the bus service which is much more comfortable,” Goldin said. “It takes me directly into D.C. It doesn’t have all of those Metro stops that the Metro has.”

Keolis and the Union, ATU Local 689, have been negotiating since July 2022.

]”We negotiated up to the point, the technical point of impasse and again, that’s a defined term at the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) meaning we neither side can move any more,” said Mike Ake, Keolis regional vice president of operations.

Ake said they offered a last best and final offer to the union on Friday, March 3. It includes a 10% pay raise with workers getting an additional 4% increase every year. Workers will get back pay at the new rate starting last July. Keolis implemented it on Tuesday after declaring an impasse.

“It is the union’s opinion that the parties are not at impasse,” said Paul Tyler, ATU Local 689 general counsel.

Tyler calls it another scare tactic to get people back to work.

“Our offer to meet in collective bargaining and continuing negotiations still stands,” Tyler said. “And we would hope that Keolis would see reason and come to the table and talk to us.”

While ake says commuter bus drivers will have the highest pay scale in the area, Tyler says fixed route and paratransit drivers are still being paid less than in other comparable locations. For him, it’s not just about base wages.

“Better quality of life, comparable living wages better health care, better retirement provisions, and a number of other outstanding contract issues,” Tyler said.

Ake blames the union for the impasse.

“We’ve moved, you know, in the, you know, in a more generous direction multiple times with our offer the union however, has not moved,” Ake said.

Tyler said more needs to be changed, especially when it comes to retirement contribution benefits.

“Keolis’s offer is not acceptable to the Union. It doesn’t provide the financial relief that many of our employees or members require,” Tyler said.

Workers have a right to remain on strike. As of Tuesday Keolis had 82 represented employees working, roughly half the workforce.    

“I would like my drivers to be well compensated and making a livable wage so that I feel that I have a safe way of getting to and from work,” Goldin said.