Despite a flurry of activity in recent days, the Amalgamated Transit Union has rejected the city's counter-offer that would have potentially ended the 40-day OC Transpo strike.

"They haven't agreed to come back and talk since the 23rd of December and that's a long time," said Councillor Marianne Wilkinson.

"And I think the only way we're going to resolve this is to get both parties together to talk."

Even when an agreement is reached, bus riders are in for a long wait because full service won't be resumed for 13 weeks.

"The buses have been out of service for a lengthy period of time in very difficult, and last week very cold, weather," said Councillor Peggy Feltmate.

"They have to be certified on a regular basis and approximately 300 buses will have to be certified by the end of January. That work simply can't get done even if we were to go back tomorrow."

The union's latest offer was to return workers to the job immediately if the city would agree to send all outstanding issues to binding arbitration - except for scheduling.

After meeting for several hours on Friday night, city council decided it would agree to arbitration only if scheduling was part of the deal.

The ATU issued a release on Saturday that said they were disappointed with the counter-offer and wants the city to "carefully consider" putting buses back on the streets.

"The arbitration process would not be neutral under their conditions, the City is now backing up on its position for fear that it has had misguided information from the beginning," said ATU President Andr� Cornellier.

"The Union continues to take the position it announced on Friday morning, and we encourage the City to carefully consider this opportunity to get the buses rolling, and to get our dispatchers, mechanics and operators back to work to serve the public."