Tempers flared Thursday afternoon after Moncton council unanimously voted to reject the latest offer from the union representing locked-out Codiac Transpo employees.
Council held a special meeting to deal with the matter and within minutes decided that $60,000 a year is too much to drive a bus.
Codiac workers and their supporters booed and yelled at council members as they left the meeting.
"You know, I think that's very unfortunate," said Mayor George LeBlanc.
"I don't know what the union members have been told. It was suggested to us that they believed that council would accept this and for that reason they asked for a public meeting."
Council sticks to $53K offer
But council is sticking with its offer of $53,000, said LeBlanc.
He urged the union to accept the offer, saying too many people are hurting from the lack of public transit.
Taxpayer Allan Gerard, who also attended the meeting, supports council's decision. He says the bus service is already too expensive, pointing to a $5 million annual deficit.
He also questioned the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290 about the number of the empty buses he has seen on the main route.
"I've been on Mountain Road and I've taken the bus as a student and I've seen three buses, one after the other," Gerard said.
Moncton locked out about 80 bus drivers, mechanics and service people on June 27 in the ongoing contract dispute, with wages being a key stumbling block.
Both sides have already agreed to annual pay hikes that would bring the bus drivers' salaries to $51,000 a year by 2017, up from $44,000, but the union is holding out in hopes of being paid $60,000 per year by 2018.
The workers have been without a contract since 2010.
Codiac Transpo services Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.