Strike update: Round-trips cancelled on 11 Vancouver bus routes Thursday
Andrew Weichel, CTV News Vancouver
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 1:58PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, November 7, 2019 6:44PM PST
VANCOUVER – The ongoing transit strike has officially started impacting regular bus service in Metro Vancouver, according to TransLink.
The company said about 30 round trips were cancelled Thursday on 11 routes, all in the city of Vancouver and all during the morning rush hour.
"The majority of routes affected were high-frequency routes," TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy said in an email. "Coast Mountain Bus Company is making every effort to ensure reliable service, but the union's job action will continue to have impacts on the system."
And unlike the ongoing SeaBus cancellations, which are determined in advance, TransLink said it will be hard to pinpoint when and where bus service will be affected by the strike.
Some of the routes affected Thursday included the 2, 9 and 25. TransLink told CTV News it tried to keep the bulk of the cancellations on busier routes so riders wouldn't be stuck waiting too long for the next bus.
There were also 16 cancelled SeaBus sailings Thursday, eight leaving from Waterfront Station and eight leaving from Lonsdale Quay.
Meanwhile, negotiations between the union and CMBC remain halted, and both sides appear determined not to move forward unless it's on their own terms.
Speaking to CTV Morning Live, CMBC president Michael McDaniel said the company has invited the union back to the bargaining table several times since talks broke down last Friday, most recently on Wednesday evening.
"Unfortunately they have declined that offer," McDaniel said Thursday. "We have to get back to the table. That's where actual bargaining continues."
But Unifor's western region director Gavin McGarrigle said the company still isn't taking their demands seriously, and until it does, there's no point in resuming talks.
"They continue to reject any comparisons with Toronto Transit (Commission) wages, which are almost $3 an hour more," McGarrigle said. "The workers are paid more but the CEOs are paid a lot less, and of course they don't want to talk about those comparisons either."
The union is asking for higher wages, better benefits and improvements to working conditions – including a guaranteed minimum break time for drivers on shift.
The employer has estimated the workers' demands will cost $608 million more than the company's current offer over the course of 10 years. CMBC has not provided a public breakdown of how it came to that figure, however, and the union told CTV News it has never received the details either.
The company's current offer is said to cost around $71 million over a decade, or an average of $7.1 million annually, which McDaniel described as "fair and reasonable."
"We're doing increases that are in excess of what the rest of the public sector in British Columbia is getting today – over three per cent for our skilled trades, nearly 2.5 per cent a year for operators – so we have a lot of things on the table that they've asked for," he said.
TransLink's 2019 budget includes $2.01 billion in revenue, with an expected surplus of $189 million for the year.