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Bus riders relieved CCTA strike has ended - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Bus riders relieved CCTA strike has ended

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

They were not part of the negotiation to end the strike by CCTA bus drivers, but they were most impacted by the strike-- we're talking about the bus riders. And now there is a huge sense of relief among those riders.

It would be like one of us having our keys taken away for three weeks and then finally getting them back. It has been tough, but at one neighborhood store, there is talk of a silver lining to all of this.

Ellen Wigmore spends most of her week checking out customers at the Jolley gas station and convenience store on North Avenue.

She came face to face with a person who is struggling without bus service.

"The elderly woman who was just in having to walk from that end of North Avenue all the way to Hannaford and now all the way back. I mean, it's so hard for them, it breaks your heart really," said Wigmore.

David Hartnett is a Burlington city councilor and also runs this store, which is a hub for this New North End neighborhood.

"We've made home deliveries for people that aren't able to get out, but that's what you do in a small community like this. This is a neighborhood store, so we tried to help as much as we could," said Hartnett, D-Burlington City Council.

He has helped people like Donald Lyons, who stops by a few days a week to pick up milk. He straps the milk on the back of his bike, which he uses a lot. He says he rides the bus about once a week for doctors' appointments.

"So I see them quite often, the doctors," said Lyons.

The bus stop near the store is empty these days. You'd normally find Gary Shagnon there almost every day. Instead, we ran into him picking up a grinder at the deli.

"I've lived here my whole life, I'm going to be 41 years old April 5, so Saturday, and I've never seen anything like this happen and never knew how much of an impact it really became. It's really bad," said Shagnon.

Getting the buses back on the roads is what everyone here is hoping for. While this has been a tough time for the community, people here say something good has come from this strike.

"I would like to thank the people here, not only in the New North End, but throughout Burlington for helping out, for chipping in, for calling to see if people need rides, bringing people to their doctors' appointments, getting them to the grocery store. I think if there is a silver lining, as you said, it brought this community closer together," said Hartnett.

Hartnett told me that even when the strike ends, there is still work to be done. He says that city leaders will be taking a closer look at how people who work at CCTA are being treated.

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