Bus drivers to ramp up job action on Monday

Starting Monday, bus drivers in Greater Victoria will refuse all overtime work, which could strand some morning and evening passengers.

Starting Monday, bus drivers in Greater Victoria will refuse all overtime work, which could strand some morning and evening passengers.

The job action will affect bus service during peak commuter hours and comes in in response to a breakdown of contract negotiations between B.C. Transit and CAW local 333 on Thursday night.

“It puts students in a tough position,” said Lucia Orser, director of external relations for the University of Victoria Students’ Society. “We can only assume that continued job action is really going to affect students’ ability to get to campus.”

Students and other transit users on busy routes are already being passed over in the morning due to buses hitting maximum capacity limits. Monday’s work-to-rule action will only make the problem worse, Orser said.

“It could mean missed classes,” she said. “But at the same time we support (the drivers’) rights for ongoing job action.”

The contract dispute centres around a proposal to replace the current fleet of community shuttle buses with a new fleet of five slightly larger shuttle buses made in China.

Community shuttles are used on smaller routes, such as through James Bay and on the West Shore. Community shuttle drivers require less training and are paid $5 less an hour. Conventional buses require a class 2 licence, while smaller community shuttles require a class 4 licence.

The union has two main concerns surrounding the proposed new shuttle, called the Vicinity.

First, the proposed new fleet can hold up to 39 passengers (including 16 standing passengers) compared to the current shuttle which can hold 23 passengers. The union is worried drivers with less training and pay will be required to take on larger routes.

“No one other than a full-time conventional operator with a Class 2 license has ever operated a bus in the Victoria system with a capacity of more than 24 passengers,” said union president Ben Williams.

He said B.C. Transit insisted on the unrestricted right to use the community shuttle buses for the Victoria fleet.

B.C. Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton said union fears are unfounded, and that the number of community shuttles won’t increase and they won’t be used on larger, busier routes.

The union said it’s also concerned about the sourcing and safety of the shuttles. It alleges B.C. Transit selected the shuttles by direct award contract to a company with no experience building transit vehicles. It has called on the Auditor General of B.C. to conduct an independent review of the decision not to issue a request for proposals for new buses.

Burton said B.C. Transit has been testing the shuttles for two years. “We think it offers better comfort and safety for our customers and drivers,” she said.

The Greater Victoria Transit Commission has not yet approved the purchase of these new shuttles for Greater Victoria. B.C. Transit has purchased the shuttles for several jurisdictions in other communities of B.C.

rholmen@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

Victoria property company plans to replace Saanich apartments with townhouses

Abstract Developments plans 26 townhouses for Gorge Road West

Camosun student starts bursary program for low-income students

The Jor-Dawn Smith Bursary will go to one Greater Victoria graduate in spring 2020

Curtain closes on Sidney’s Star Cinema location

The iconic theatre will move to a temporary location after its last showing Sunday

Semi truck impounded after driver avoids weight scales in Saanich

Driver issued 90-day roadside driving prohibition

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Most Read