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Beginning on Saturday, September 16, 2000, the drivers of the Los Angeles city buses launched a strike, stopping the 2,000 buses, subway, and rail lines that cover the 1,400 square miles of Los Angeles County, and stranding nearly half a million bus riders. The 4,300 members of the United Transportation Union (UTU) are on strike over wages and overtime. The Mass Transit Authority (MTA) of Los Angeles will face a $438 million deficit by 2010 if it does not manage to cut costs. Rather than raise fares, the MTA suggested cutting the cost of drivers's overtime pay by fifteen percent over the next three years, for a saving of $23 million. To do this, the MTA proposed that 400 drivers accept a four-day-a-week work schedule, in which they would be on duty twelve hours a day, but would only be paid for ten hours. Overtime would start only after twelve hours. The strike has already proven itself difficult for the people of Los Angeles. Traffic increased nearly five percent, and those Los Angelenos who depend on public transportation to get to work and school, have been forced to walk, carpool, or ride bikes. According to the MTA, 68 percent of MTA riders have household incomes under $15,000 a year. Talks between the UTU and the MTA were to have resumed on Tuesday morning.
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