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SkyTrain strike: Marathon talks run into Tuesday morning ahead of planned 3-day shutdown

Contract talks continue as SkyTrain strike looms
WATCH: With a three-day SkyTrain shutdown set to start at 5:00 am Tuesday, the two sides are trying to hammer out an agreement. Grace Ke reports.

The union representing 900 SkyTrain workers and the BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) continued marathon talks in to early Tuesday morning as commuters across Metro Vancouver brace for the possibility of a SkyTrain shutdown.

As of 4:30 a.m. it was still unclear whether trains would run Tuesday morning or not.

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If a new deal isn’t reached  overnight there will be no service on the Expo and Millennium lines starting at 5 a.m. A full-scale strike would run until Friday morning.

CUPE 7000, which represents the workers, said it is not starting with an overtime ban, as bus and SeaBus workers did last month, as it would increase safety risks.

Talks continue as full SkyTrain strike looms
Talks continue as full SkyTrain strike looms

TransLink is already warning commuters to plan alternate transportation, while universities are warning students they’ll still be required to find another way to campus for exams during the strike.

Canada Line, bus service, SeaBus, Blue Bus, West Coast Express and HandyDART will not be impacted by the job action.

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TransLink says passengers hoping for extra bus service to replace SkyTrain will be out of luck.

“TransLink has been told that given operational constraints and labour considerations, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) is not able to increase bus service in response to the planned strike by employees of the BC Rapid Transit Company,” said the agency in a media release.

“CMBC advises that service will be operating as it would on any regular weekday.”

READ MORE: SkyTrain workers plan to shut the system down for 3 days. Here’s what you need to know

The transit authority has launched an online guide on how to get around without SkyTrain, using both TransLink’s own trip planner system and Google Maps.

But it says passengers should be prepared for increased passenger volume on all routes, should the SkyTrain shut down.

It is also suggesting passengers consider the following alternatives:

  • Using one of our park and rides to connect to bus service
  • Travelling outside of rush hours
  • Working from home
  • Using a carpooling service such as Liftango and gobyRIDE
  • Walking or cycling to work
  • Free bike valet service at Vancouver Public Library from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The union says it is fighting for better wages, sick time and staffing levels.

The union, which has been without a contract since Aug. 31. held a strike vote on Nov. 21, where members gave leadership a 96.8 per cent strike mandate.

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— With files from Sean Boynton