The Metro Vancouver transit strike continues on Thursday with 16 SeaBus cancellations, some bus routes reduced, and no end in sight to the bitter labour dispute.
Four of the sailing cancellations affected the morning commute, four will affect the afternoon commute and eight will take place in the evening.
Unifor, the union representing striking transit workers, says about 40 bus runs were also dropped on Thursday.
“Because of the frequency and so many buses the public might not necessarily know it. They might just see that the bus is a little bit behind and the frequency isn’t as great,” said Unifor western director Gavin McGarrigle.
“”I think the key thing is that they’re trying to shrug it off as if it’s not going to be any impact. As we’ve been saying all along it’s going to start to hit and it’s gonna get worse.”
TransLink said 11 bus routes saw reduced frequency during the morning commute, most of them “high-frequency routes.”
“Coast Mountain Bus Company is making every effort to ensure reliable service, but the union’s job action will continue to have impacts on the system,” TransLink said in a statement.
SkyTrain service is unaffected.
The SeaBus and bus disruptions are due to an overtime ban by the transit workers’ union.
The following SeaBus sailings have been cancelled on Thursday:
- 7:20 a.m.
- 9:00 a.m.
- 4:10 p.m.
- 6:47 p.m.
- 7:17 p.m.
- 7:47 p.m.
- 8:17 p.m.
- 8:47 p.m.
- 7:35 a.m.
- 9:15 a.m.
- 4:25 p.m.
- 7:10 p.m.
- 7:31 p.m.
- 8:01 p.m.
- 8:31 p.m.
- 9:01 p.m.
According to the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), every SeaBus must have an engineer aboard, and the company doesn’t have enough staff to operate the ferries without workers on overtime filling some of those shifts.
TransLink is urging commuters to subscribe to its notification system for service updates. Global News is also tracking daily disruptions.
Unifor locals 2200 and 111 represent about 5,000 bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers who have been without a contract since the end of March.
Workers want pay and benefit increases, along with improvements in working conditions, which they say have deteriorated amid surging ridership.
The CMBC says the union’s ask would amount to half a billion dollars over 10 years — money which it says should be spent on service increases.
The union spent Wednesday handing out buttons and leaflets at Vancouver’s Waterfront station in a bid to drum up public support.
“We think public opinion is going to be key to this issue. We’ve heard overwhelming support from the passengers, we just wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to speak out,” said McGarrigle.
“Ultimately, if the company doesn’t listen to the passengers and this escalates, we know where the blame should be laid: squarely at the feet of the overpaid company executives.”
No talks are currently scheduled between the two sides.
CMBC president Michael McDaniel said it is the union that is refusing to budge.
“The union walked away last week. We asked them three different times throughout bargaining to participate in third-party mediation with us through the Labour Relations Board,” he said.
“Unfortunately, they declined all three of these times. We just simply want to get back to the table. We just want to get back to the table — we need to finish bargaining; we’re not done.”
Earlier this week, B.C. Premier John Horgan said the province would not intervene in the dispute, but he vowed Thursday he wouldn’t let the strike drag on for months like in 2001.
“I will remind you that the last time the official opposition was in government there was a four-month transit strike in Vancouver, and I can assure you that won’t happen under my watch,” he said.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond has urged both sides to get back to bargaining.