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B.C. Transit buses to be used for Victoria cruise ship tourists
A decision by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to use B.C. Transit buses for cruise ship passengers has transit drivers fuming.
The GVHA awarded a one-year contract to Wilson's Transportation Ltd. Monday. Under the contract, six B.C. Transit buses will be driven by Wilson's drivers and make runs between Ogden Point and downtown Victoria.
Canadian Auto Workers Local 333 President Ben Williams said B.C. Transit likely violated its collective agreement by leasing the buses for private service without using B.C. Transit employees.
“I cannot understand how an employer, with a contract that clearly stipulates it must consult with the union on any new work, would refuse to do exactly that,” Williams said. “We want a mutually agreeable resolution to this situation and (B.C. Transit) won’t talk.”
In a statement, B.C. Transit spokeswoman Meribeth Burton said a reduction in summer hours means idle buses can be leased to generate further revenue.
"B.C. Transit has a provincial fleet of 1,000 buses. Six of those buses will be leased to the GVHA," Burton said. "The revenue generated from leasing these idle buses will be invested back into transit services in the participating B.C. Transit communities."
The GVHA approved the one-year contract while it begins testing cleaner and quieter buses for use through James Bay.
“Bus technology is rapidly evolving and we are confident that within the next few years we will see a major step-change improvement in the buses servicing the cruise ships in Victoria. The end goal is a sustainable transportation network for cruise passengers and crew that minimizes impacts on the community," said Curtis Grad, GVHA President & Chief Executive Officer.
CAW local 333 plans to grieve the use of B.C. Transit buses, Williams said.