Lisbon subway stoppage brings commuter misery

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Lisbon subway staff have walked off the job during the morning rush hour in a protest against pay cuts and the company's possible privatization.

The Metropolitano de Lisboa carries on average about 370,000 passengers a day, and Wednesday's strike by most of its 1,450 employees shut down services. The stoppage brought misery for commuters who faced long queues for buses in the rain.

The government is trying to cut costs at state-owned public transport companies, such as the Lisbon subway. Governments have long subsidized public transport fares, while trade unions have won what the current government views as lavish benefits for workers.

Portugal's public transport companies are carrying close to 16 billion euros ($20 billion) in debt. The Lisbon subway company is 4.3 billion euros in the red.