As a tentative agreement is reached to end the bus strike, is it the longest in Phoenix history? No — the record goes to a ruinous 56-day walkout in 1962. Tucson went through a 42-day strike last year, where Sun Tran drivers were particularly concerned about improvements to their safety. Once again, the strike was against Transdev, the multinational company that also operates many of Phoenix's routes (another operator is First Transit, which handles Valley Metro routes mostly in the suburbs).
Let's hope the drivers — who hardly make princely wages — get clean, safe restroom stops. That's not too much to ask.
The Republic has done a good job of laying out the issues and maintaining daily coverage. So I'll try to piece together some added context, questions, and thoughts.
The strike appears confusing because it affects 34 routes that carry 80,000 daily boarders. This has taken out almost all of the routes in the city and those that run east-west, except for the busy McDowell, Thomas and Indian School buses. With scabs, Transdev is operating some on reduced schedules. But according to the now-always-accurate Wikipedia, Valley Metro has 101 routes.
Part of the confusion may stem from Valley Metro merely being a brand for the city of Phoenix and the Regional Public Transportation Authority, an amalgamation created in 1993 from the old Phoenix Transit (Tico!) and other operations in Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale. Most of the actual organizational expertise comes from the City of Phoenix Public Transit Department. Throw in the private-sector contract operators and light rail (WBIYB) and things get even more confusing.