Apr 13, 11:18 AM (ET)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minneapolis-St. Paul transit agency and the bus drivers' union reached tentative agreement early Tuesday on a contract aimed at ending a strike that has stretched to nearly six weeks, a spokesman said. Buses could be operating again as early as Saturday, Transit Union leader Ron Lloyd said. The strike against Metro Transit has affected 75,000 daily riders in Minneapolis, St. Paul and their suburbs. Contract talks resumed at 2 p.m. Monday, and a deal wasn't reached until around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons said. Gov. Tim Pawlenty joined the talks late Monday.

Drivers, mechanics and other members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 walked off the job March 4. The sides had been split mainly over proposed changes to retiree health benefits, but also had sparred over wages. Details of their new agreement weren't expected to be released until after union members vote on the contract later this week. While many bus riders simply turned to their cars, some said they had to improvise or even lost jobs because they weren't able to get to work. "I tell you, I really don't like to call around to find out who's available to take me to do what I got to do," said Anita Moss, 41, of suburban Coon Rapids, who doesn't own a car. When told of the tentative settlement, she said: "Oh, man, that would be wonderful." She suffers from kidney failure, and while she could depend on a service called Metro Mobility to get to dialysis appointments, she said she preferred to get around on her own. The governor, who had been criticized for not doing enough to resolve the problem, had met privately with leaders of both sides last week. Asked about that criticism during a news conference Tuesday, Pawlenty said people overestimated what he could do and he didn't believe that getting involved earlier would have changed anything. Pawlenty said nothing dramatic had happened to trigger the settlement. Both sides just got tired, he said. "Weariness sets in," the governor said. "Fatigue sets in."

Our liberal Unions at it again, LOST JOBS? Now they will blame George W. Bush for this, more lost jobs under his watch.