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

Esquimalt requests public feedback as it plans for plastic bag ban

An online survey aims to gather information before the ban comes into effect in January 2020

Saanich community association postpones meeting about University Heights

Gordon Head Residents’ Association president doesn’t know why University Heights project is on hold

Unattended cooking causes fire in Songhees Nation home

Two people treated for injuries, one transported to hospital Monday evening

Busy Tuesday for BC Ferries passengers

First sailings to and from Swartz Bay sold out

Rain with a high of 16 C for Tuesday

Plus your weekly forecast

Easter bombings a response to New Zealand attacks, says Sri Lanka minister

The Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the nine bombings

RCMP looking to retrace steps of woman found dead on Kelowna beach

Caitlin Midori Bradley, a 29-year-old dancer at a Kelowna bar, was originally from Surrey

New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

But advocates say it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved largely as a result of government actions

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

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

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Most Read