July 21, 2015, 9:00 am
Guest post by Jessica Hewitt, Internal Communications Advisor at Coast Mountain Bus Company.
Have you ever wondered how Transit Operators pick their bus routes? With six transit centres and 157 conventional bus routes to choose from – how could one pick?
I had the opportunity to visit the Vancouver Transit Centre (VTC) during a local sign-up to find out more about how depot staff, union reps and operators work together to assign operators to specific routes.
How does it work?
Four times a year (April, June, September and December) service level or sheet changes occur. At this time, adjustments are made to routes and schedules to ensure we continue to provide reliable, efficient and safe transit service to get our customers where they need to go. These schedule changes can be either permanent or seasonal depending on the route.
Once the schedules have been determined, operators then sign up for routes. Sign-ups occur about three weeks before a new sheet is in effect. There are two types of sign-ups. A local sign-up allows operators to sign for work in their own depot and a consolidated sign-up (occurs once a year) gives operators the opportunity to choose work at any depot.
The consolidated sign-up lasts for four weeks with sign up dates being determined by seniority. During this process, operators choose the depot they want to work at as well as their weekday, weekend, and holiday shifts. Operators can opt to sign up for regular work or can choose to be on the spare board in which they receive work assignments on a day-to-day basis.
Who does what?
Depot Coordinators, given leave from their regular duties, ensure correct operator data is entered into the system—they are instrumental to ensuring a smooth sign up!
Bus operators, with the help of an online sign-up planner, can review new routes, availability as well as ensure that they select work that is compliant with the Safety Code limits on driving hours, overtime, rest time and more.
Unifor representatives and depot staff then double and triple check work selections to avoid mistakes.
Depot Coordinator, Rita Barha says “I’ve worked in different areas in the depot and even after 10 years, there is always something new that you haven’t seen before.” She says “I learn something new every day”.
In the age of apps, smartphones and real-time updates, it seems that paper would be the way of the past.
However, for CMBC, the operator sign-up process is so complex that a significant business technology project will be required for automation. Also, training for all of our staff will be needed to ensure the transition from paper to online is seamless.
The move to automation is important for CMBC. Although preliminary discussions are underway to transition to online sign up in the future, with the number of current projects on the go such as Compass, we’re waiting for the resources and time to develop the sophisticated software to meet our needs.
Want to know more about the service our operators who sign up for work provide? Read more about our seasonal service changes here!