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

Traditional salmon designs brighten Salish Sea Lantern Festival

Children from ȽÁU,WEL,ṈEW̱ tribal school built salmon hats for festival on Sidney waterfront

Mainly cloudy skies ahead for Friday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Speculation tax forces sale of Oak Bay’s ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read