Transport disruption as bus driver strike continues in German state of Hesse

Commuters, school pupils and other passengers were hit with cancellations and delays on Wednesday as bus drivers went on strike for the second day in a row.

Transport disruption as bus driver strike continues in German state of Hesse
Lots of passengers wait for buses in Frankfurt on Tuesday during the first day of the strike. Photo: DPA

Drivers in around 25 cities in the central state of Hesse, including Frankfurt, Hanau, Fulda and Offenbach, have been taking part in the action, Verdi negotiator Jochen Koppel said. In Frankfurt, 56 of 64 bus lines were hit by cancellations on Tuesday when the action began.

On Wednesday it was a similar picture, reported German broadcaster Hessenschau.

The dispute between private bus companies in Hesse and Verdi is over pay and conditions. The Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), which operates the region's public transport network, is not involved in the row. However, it is publishing updates on the strike and the lines affected.

On the RMV website, a statement said the strike would last an “indefinite period”. The union Verdi has also not said when the strike will end.

In Fulda, school buses were also cancelled.

Verdi confirmed on Wednesday morning that buses were at a standstill in many locations, including Gießen and Darmstadt. 

Meanwhile, in Frankfurt, passengers also had to deal with possible cancellations and delays on underground trains and trams due to staff meetings involving transport operator VGF.

There was also expected to be some disruption on the rail network.

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In Hanau, Hesse, an employee puts a sign up on a bus. Photo: DPA

A total of about 3,000 drivers are expected to join the strike over the course of the day. According to the union, about 3,100 drivers had downed their tools in the first day of action on Tuesday. “We had a very strong start,” said a spokeswoman.

Wage increases

Verdi wants to see wage increases as well as more paid breaks and holidays for the 4,400 drivers of private bus companies in the region.

The union wants the basic salary to rise from €13.50 to €16.60 per hour.

However, the collective bargaining conflict seems to be deadlocked.

The regional association of bus and coach operators in Hesse (LHO) called on the union to return to the negotiating table. The LHO had offered to increase the basic wage to €15.60 per hour over the next four years. The fifth round of negotiations last Thursday was unsuccessful.

Managing director of the association, Volker Tuchan, said on Tuesday: “Our offer from Thursday is on the table.”

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Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

Switzerland’s Federal Railways (SBB) will be removing the ticket counter from nine stations in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Bern, Zug and Ticino

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

The SBB made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision was made due to a lack of demand. 

Instead, commuters will need to buy tickets from automated machines. 

In the canton of Zurich, the ticket stations in Dietlikon, Hinwil, Kloten, Männedorf and Oberwinterthur will be closed. 

In neighbouring Zug, Cham’s ticket counter will be closed, while the Herzogenbuchsee station in Bern will also go fully automated. 

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In Latin Switzerland, Pully in Vaud and Biasca in Ticino will see their ticket counters closed. 

The SBB told Swiss news outlet Watson that approximately 95 percent of ticket sales are now made via self-service machines or online. 

The advent of navigation apps has meant the need for personal advice on directions and travel has fallen, particularly in smaller areas or stations with lower traffic.