LOS ANGELES–Union members who drive the city’s buses and operate its trains have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract, ending a 32-day long strike that left nearly a half-million Angelenos stranded and hurt hundreds of businesses across the county.

Under the pact, top pay for most bus or train operators will jump to $22.50 an hour, and their contribution to their pension plan will drop by 1%. And in another important victory for the unions, any effort by the governing Metropolitan Transit Authority to split up the massive bus system to improve service will require that newly hired drivers get the same pay and benefits.

Most buses and trains are expected to resume operation by Thursday, with full service returning Friday or Monday. The strike was the third longest in LA history and forced 450,000 daily transit riders to find other ways to get to work or school, visit their doctor or to keep other appointments.

The walkout also took its toll on hundreds of restaurants, bars and retail stores–many of which are located in CBD office buildings–because many of the establishments’ regular workers and patrons couldn’t make it into transit-dependent Downtown. Hotel operators also suffered because some of their maids and other service staff depend on public transit to get to and from their jobs.

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