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PHOENIX -- An impending bus strike in the Phoenix metro area was averted Tuesday as both sides agreed to continue negotiations.

First Transit, Valley Metro's East Valley service provider and ATU 1433, the bus drivers' union, agreed to continue talks through July 31.

"We're pleased that First Transit and the ATU have agreed to continue discussions and make progress on an agreement that supports operators and riders," said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell in a press release.

Had the strike occurred, bus routes in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe as well as routes that travel into Phoenix and Scottsdale would have been disrupted.

Local leaders are pushing both sides to wrap up labor negotiations to ensure no long-term bus service interruptions. The sides have been involved in talks since January.

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