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SFU, UBC students warned to prepare ‘alternative transportation’ as transit dispute impacts mount

Commuters are bracing for possible escalating job action in Metro Vancouver's transit workers strike starting next week, and that has prompted SFU to warn students and staff to consider finding alternative ways of getting to and from campus. Jordan Armstrong reports.

Post-secondary students in Metro Vancouver are being warned to prepare “alternative transportation” to and from campus, as further job action and service disruptions threaten to ramp up the ongoing transit worker dispute.

The union representing 5,000 bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers began a uniform ban and maintenance overtime ban on Nov. 1, the latter of which has led to SeaBus sailing cancellations and mounting bus route service reductions.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver transit strike: Here’s how your commute may be affected

Service returned to normal levels Saturday and is expected to remain steady for the long weekend. But the union and Coast Mountain Bus Company have both warned disruptions could begin again Tuesday. The union has also said further job action could begin after Remembrance Day, including a bus operator overtime ban.

On Saturday, Simon Fraser University sent a note to students, faculty and staff to consider carpooling, carsharing and other transit alternatives, particularly to and from its Burnaby campus on Burnaby Mountain.

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The university said it has set up additional street parking in the eastbound lane on University Drive East to accommodate an increase in vehicle traffic. An additional shuttle bus is also in effect between that area and the main campus.

A map of the temporary additional parking area close to Simon Fraser University’s main Burnaby campus, along with shuttle bus stops in the area that can take students, faculty and staff to and from the campus and the parking area.
A map of the temporary additional parking area close to Simon Fraser University’s main Burnaby campus, along with shuttle bus stops in the area that can take students, faculty and staff to and from the campus and the parking area. Simon Fraser University

The University of British Columbia, BCIT, and other post-secondary institutions in Metro Vancouver have also provided notices and links to services that students and staff should consider as service disruptions worsen.

All of these schools have warned classes and exams will continue to run as normal throughout the job action and potential strike. Anyone who feels they may be late or unable to attend are advised to speak to their instructors or faculty advisor.

Here’s a rundown of the various transportation alternatives available to students faculty and staff.

More service affected by overtime ban as transit strike continues
More service affected by overtime ban as transit strike continues

SkyTrain and other transit

Because the job action does not impact SkyTrain, West Coast Express or BC Transit, some campuses remain easily accessible by transit not controlled by Coast Mountain Bus Company.

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Those include SFU’s Vancouver and Surrey campuses and Kwantlen University’s Richmond campus.

The University of Fraser Valley, which is home to several students based in Metro Vancouver, can also be reached by West Coast Express and BC Transit.

Carpooling

As B.C. waits for Uber and Lyft to hit the roads, Poparide is offering something slightly different: essentially paid hitchhiking.

The service, which began as a shared ride service between cities, is now being offered as a way for students to buy seats in vehicles headed to their school of choice.

Every major post-secondary institution in Metro Vancouver is represented — including SFU, UBC, BCIT, Emily Carr, Capilano and Kwantlen — with students and staff listed as Poparide members.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver transit dispute: Service remains normal through weekend

If those members are heading to or from campus at the same time as you, you can buy a seat in their vehicle for as low as $5 and get picked up on the way.

Students also get $5 worth of free rides if they verify their student email through the website.

If you don’t want to pay, students and staff are urged to seek out carpooling opportunities with classmates or colleagues.

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And while it’s essentially a taxi service redressed as ridesharing, Kater has made itself available as an Uber stand-in, though for now it’s only operating in Vancouver.

Transit strike now impacting bus service
Transit strike now impacting bus service

Car sharing

Car-sharing services like Car2Go, Evo and Zipcar are provided parking spots at most campuses, even if they’re outside the regular “home zone” of Vancouver.

However, the cars themselves are first-come, first-serve, with no guarantee one can be found anywhere close by when you need it.

Some schools like Emily Carr offer free registration codes for some services. More information can be found on the various school websites.

READ MORE: Bus company head says pay cut would not help end Metro Vancouver transit strike

Cycling

All schools in Metro Vancouver have designated bike lockup areas, and some of them have covered and secure bike lockers.

Schools are also pointing students and staff to Mobi, Vancouver’s bike share program. Some schools provide discount codes for monthly or yearly passes.

Focus BC: November 8, 2019
Focus BC: November 8, 2019