Riders abandon B.C. Transit as delays continue

Skilled trades shortage aids backlog

  • Feb. 20, 2013 12:00 p.m.

B.C. Transit is continuing to play catch-up with bus maintenance following three-month long job action by the Canadian Auto Workers Local 333, but as it attempts to get back to business as usual, ridership numbers are dropping.

“(Monday we had) 36 cancelled runs,” said B.C. Transit corporate spokesperson Meribeth Burton. “We have about 3,200 trips a day Monday to Friday, so one per cent cancelled isn’t great but it’s better than we have been providing.”

B.C. Transit has been cancelling runs on some of its higher frequency routes in an attempt to provide maintenance to the 45 to 50 buses Burton said are parked at this time.

“I think we were just in survival mode for the three months of the job action,” she said. “(The buses we have parked) require eight or more hours of repair on them.”

The Canadian Auto Workers have asked B.C. Transit to keep the work in-house and they are posting between 60 and 70 hours of overtime in each garage every day to get the system running normally as quickly as possible.

“If it wasn’t for the job action our workers would have done the work already,” said Canadian Auto Workers Union Local 333 president Ben Williams. “At B.C. Transit we obviously perform all of the maintenance on the vehicles for Greater Victoria and that’s how we want it to stay.”

According to Williams there has been talk from B.C. Transit of contracting out the work but union members are working long hours to keep the work in house.

“It’s their work and nobody wants to see their work taken elsewhere,” Williams said.

Contributing to the long work hours and backlog of maintenance is an overall shortage in skilled trades people in the industry.

“There is a huge shortage in skilled trades especially with the mechanics side of things,” said Williams. “It’s extremely difficult to attract these people and the wages B.C. Transit is paying aren’t cutting it, making it even harder to obtain and retain staff.”

But as Transit moves forward with maintenance, riders are waiting for buses that have been cancelled or arrive already full.

“I’m one of those riders,” Burton said. “I can completely empathize. On Friday, I was waiting to go to work with my four-year-old and we were out in the cold waiting for 10 minutes, with more people than we’ve ever seen at that stop, because a trip was cancelled.”

And Burton isn’t the only transit user who has seen the change in service. Christine Comrie, who often uses transit daily, said she has noticed the cancellations since the strike ended.

“I find it frustrating not to have a bus come when you’re at the stop waiting for over 20 minutes, especially when you have to make it to work on time,” Comrie said.

In an attempt to keep from inconveniencing rural riders, Transit is cancelling runs on routes with frequent service. Riders who often see a bus come every 10 minutes on major routes, may be waiting 20 because of cancelled runs.

As runs have been cancelled, ridership numbers have dropped – something Burton said is cause for concern.

“Last year we had record ridership and I think we were as excited as we could be as a crown corporation. We’ve seen any kind of drop is unacceptable,” she said. “Anytime you give people the opportunity to consider alternative modes of transportation, it’s a slippery slope and one we don’t want to go down. That’s why we’re working as hard as we can to get service back up.”

Though some riders have the option of using transportation alternatives, people like Comrie rely on transit as one of their primary sources of transportation.

“For someone in my income bracket, I can’t afford a vehicle,” she said. “I have to have faith the transit authorities will provide the services we come to expect and depend on.”

Burton said the garages, logistics, the depot and operations are working together to get the system running as smoothly as possible, however it’s hard to say when it will be back to service as usual.

“I think every day we watch the numbers again,” she said. “It’s easy to catch up on the weekends when we’re putting in fewer service hours. But it’s not just that we have a backlog, it’s every single day there are upwards of 300 buses in our fleet that continually need maintenance. It’s a floating target.”

 

 

 

Just Posted

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Colwood mayor pitches ferry as commuter alternative

Mayor Rob Martin says different modes of transportation need to be considered

Bouquet sales support big dreams in Greater Victoria

Country Grocer features holiday bouquets for Help Fill a Dream

‘Book nerds unite!’ Sidney voted one of Canada’s most cozy cities

Coveted for its bookstores and picturesque views, Expedia.ca ranks town No. 12 on list of 55 cities

Emerald Gloves boxing brings fights to Langford

Langford’s Matt Daniels dropped weight for debut

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

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

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Port Alberni convenience store robbed

Police still searching for suspect

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read