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Some UBC, SFU classes moved online due to transit strike


The University of British Columbia bus loop that services 15 routes into and out of the campus, including the 99B line, which is Canada’s busiest bus route, was eerily quiet on Monday as Coast Mountain Bus Company workers walked off the job.

“It’s really weird because Monday to Friday, all day, it’s just lines everywhere. It’s one of the busiest bus loops in North America as far as I know. So it’s really weird to see it empty,” said math student Justin Gallant, who added it’s not only learners who rely on transit to get to and from UBC. “Not just the students, but all the workers who work to keep campus going.”

UBC spokesperson Thandi Fletcher said about half of all trips to the campus are made on transit.

“We do know that many of our students, faculty and staff do rely on public transit, so we know this is having a signifiant impact on our community,” said Fletcher.

With buses parked, most classes at UBC have moved online.

“Thanks to COVID, we are in a much better position today to be able to quickly shift online. So that is what we are doing. We are moving as many classes as we can to be delivered remotely,” said Fletcher, who acknowledged not all programs can make the switch to remote learning.

“Some of my classes are going to be moving online, but we do have labs. So stuff like that, I’m not sure what they’re going to end up doing. I think they are waiting to see how long the strike lasts,” said neuroscience student Navneet Gill, who added, “It is kind of good that we know how to do things online, but I think everyone kind of likes going in-person to classes.”

Simon Fraser University is also highly reliant on buses to get students, staff and faculty up to the Burnaby Mountain campus. On Monday, it moved many classes online as well, but that’s not an option for the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

“We do have to have most of our learning be in-person and on campus, because we are very applied and very hands on,” said Jennifer Figner, BCIT’s academic vice president. “Where possible, we do have some activity that can switch to online, and certainly in the short term we have got some flexibility there, but it’s not simple for us.”

So BCIT kept all its classes in-person on Monday, and students who normally rely on buses had to find way to get to campus.

“We are aware of a number of students who are ride-sharing and carpooling. We are fortunate we have two SkyTrain stations nearby, students can walk from there. Not a lovely day to be doing that, but it can be done. So we have some creativity in terms of our students coming to and from campus,” said Figner.

But she said if the strike goes beyond the planned 48-hour job action, life will be difficult for students and staff at all post-secondary schools. “It’s our absolute hope that this can be resolved quite quickly.” Top Stories

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