'Let's not hold customers hostage': Commuters on averted SkyTrain strike
VANCOUVER -- Commuters who rely on the SkyTrain to get around Metro Vancouver said they were happy a deal was reached before the first trains started, but some said they felt they'd been used as a bargaining chip.
A tentative last-minute deal was announced around 5 a.m. Tuesday, after an 18-hour negotiation session between the SkyTrain workers' union and their employer.
- Read more: Developing story on the agreement
Elly Robertson doesn't drive, so she relies on transit to get to and from work each day.
Robertson spoke to CTV News Monday about her trip from Richmond to Coquitlam, which involves two buses and two trains and sometimes takes more than two hours one way.
She used TransLink's Trip Planner to map her route without using the SkyTrain, and found that she'd be taking four buses. But on Tuesday, she found out about the deal around the time she normally catches her first bus.
"I wish that we had known that maybe a little earlier than right now, but I'm still very happy that they've sorted it out," Robertson told CTV's David Molko, who joined her for her commute.
She was asked what she wanted to say to the union and employer, who spent about 18 hours negotiating.
"I appreciate your efforts. Thank you very much … I'm glad, because they were going to put a lot of us in a really bad spot. I'm grateful for that," she said.
Robertson said she wasn't concerned about delays. Laughing, she said the fact that trains are running at all was good enough for her.
Still, she said she wasn't happy with the way recent transit negotiations have played out.
"Let's not hold customers hostage. Let's not use us as a bargaining tool anymore. Let's not do that. Don't put us all in jeopardy and behind an eight-ball, worried about how to get from A to B."
Lise Marcus, who spoke to CTV News outside of Commercial-Broadway Station, said her commute from New Westminster was "virtually flawless."
She said there wasn't much of a delay and she was able to get on the first train that came through. But Marcus said she wasn't that worried when she went to bed last night not knowing if the strike would go forward.
She'd called TransLink to figure out how to do her commute by bus, so she had a plan in place.
"But I kind of had my fingers crossed that they were going to settle as quickly as the buses settled. It's just circumstances. It's a cold time of the year to be leaving a lot of people out waiting on the train (platforms)."
Late last month, bus drivers planned to walk off the job for three days, but a deal was reached shortly after midnight the day the strike was to start.
"I was OK with it. I had an alternative and I wasn't going to get on the road with all these other cars," Marcus said.
Others told CTV News they found out when they arrived at a station, expecting to catch a bus.
"I got off the bus at Lougheed mall and I looked and the doors were open – it's like, 'Well, they must have figured it out, or something out,' " Port Moody resident Mike Fischbacher said.
"But at the same time, I'm headed to work really early. A little bit before the local deli opens, so I can't even sit down and have a coffee before going into work."
As with Marcus, he said he'd been optimistic after seeing what happened with the bus strike.
"Something as essential as this, keeping the fingers crossed. In the past they've usually found a way to work it out and minimize the disruption."
When asked if he thought it was a negotiation tactic, he said, "That's possibly what happened there."