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8 things you need to know about the Metro Vancouver Transit Strike

If you’re a resident, a visitor, or just have a stake in what’s going on in Metro Vancouver, you’ve likely noticed that a transit strike is underway. As avid transit users ourselves and lovers of the system, we want to address some of the chatter about the job action and provide some context.

When you use a TransLink service such as bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express or HandyDART, you’re riding with one of our operating companies or contractors.

TransLink plans and funds the service, while these companies deliver this service to our customers – all 500,000 of you each day – across Canada’s largest transit service area at more than 1,800 square kilometres.

Notably, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) operates the SeaBus and most bus service in the region, while British Columbia Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) runs the SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium Lines.

CMBC and BCRTC are currently in negotiations for new collective bargaining agreements with their respective unions. Think of it as a shared commitment on wages, benefits and working conditions.

TransLink understands and recognizes the crucial role transit plays in the lives of Metro Vancouver residents, tourists and visitors. That’s why CMBC and BCRTC are committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement with the unions.

Currently, talks have broken off between Coast Mountain Bus Company, and Unifor 111 and 2200. The union’s job action is regrettably resulting in service disruptions for our shared customers.

There’s been a lot of information shared over the last few weeks, and we want to set the record straight and provide answers to some common questions about ongoing job action.

A full bus strike

Any loss of service is unacceptable, and we are urging the union to come back to the bargaining table to finish the deal. In the meantime, TransLink will everything possible to communicate service disruptions to our customers

To help keep our customers moving during escalated job action, we will have information and resources on alternative travel methods such as carsharing and bike parkade facilities available on our website.

Operator breaks

Currently, bus operators have non-scheduled breaks incorporated into their scheduled shifts, however, CMBC recognizes that road congestion and overcrowding are slowly eroding recovery time and often bus operators opt to forego their breaks in order to try to keep the bus on schedule. That said, today, 99 per cent of operators whose shift lasts 7.5 hours or longer receive 30 minutes of recovery time which they use to take a break. 93% of operators scheduled to work 7.5 hours or more received 45 minutes of actual recovery that day. 78% of operators scheduled to work 7.5 hours or more received 1 hour of actual recovery that day.

CMBC is taking the unprecedented step of offering guaranteed overtime. Under the latest collective bargaining offer given by CMBC, transit operators would be guaranteed at least 40 minutes of recovery time for every scheduled shift. Under regular road conditions, transit operators would be paid double time for any minute of recovery time they don’t receive under 40 minutes. CMBC is also adding more scheduled recovery time to ensure operators are getting a rest.

With respect to break room facilities, we recognize that much of our region has aging infrastructure, and as part of the 10-Year Vision and TransLink’s Maintenance and Repair Program, we’re upgrading and providing improved operator layover facilities throughout Metro Vancouver.

Washroom breaks

Bus operators are encouraged to use washrooms as needed during their scheduled shifts. The latest bargaining proposal also clarifies that operators are permitted to use a washroom whenever necessary.

CMBC has a washroom committee where once a month, one bus operator and one supervisor from each bus depot visits each and every washroom in their service area. During these visits, they assess the cleanliness and functionality and report back to CMBC. Any identified issues are immediately addressed by CMBC’s Facilities Maintenance department or Transit Supervisors.

Guildford Bus Layover Facility

Recently opened bus operator layover facility at Guildford Exchange

UBC bus operator washroom

UBC Exchange operator layover facility

Wages

CMBC’s enhanced proposal is more generous than other public sector settlements in British Columbia. The current offer gives bus operators a maximum salary of $69,900 annually after four years and builds on the improvements for working conditions and wages in previous CMBC proposals.

The top annual wage for operators will increase by about $6,100 over the next four years, bringing their annual salary to $69,900. CMBC operator wages are the highest offered in the province and are higher than in several other Canadian cities.

CMBC also recognizes its compensation for skilled trades has not been competitive. This is why its proposal is offering a $10,000 annual pay increase after four year

CMBC and TransLink must offer competitive salaries to attract qualified employees, whether they are front line workers, trades or executives. CMBC operator wages are the highest offered in the province and are higher than in several other Canadian cities. Nearly 10,000 operator applications have come in over the last two years. This shows operator wages are competitive.

Wages compared to other regions

CMBC is offering generous wage increases at the limit of what the region can afford. Parity with Toronto operators would require increases in fares, taxes or fees. CMBC is already offering a competitive wage for operators and its wage proposal will make the job even more attractive.

CMBC has had line-ups out the door during career fairs and nearly 10,000 applications to become a bus operator over the last two years. We’re not recruiting operators in Toronto or anywhere else outside of Metro Vancouver. We’re recruiting within our region, for our region.

CMBC operator wages are the highest offered in the province and are higher than in several other Canadian cities.

Executive compensation

TransLink has had difficulty hiring executives in the transportation sector. This summer the TransLink board increased the salary bands for executives after thorough research into comparative salaries in Canada after an independent study found the compensation was not competitive in this specialized market.

Half a million people rely on TransLink’s services every day to get around the region. An efficient and effective transportation system is critical to the functioning of the region’s economy and our communities. It’s therefore crucial that we are able to recruit and retain experienced leaders that we need to oversee the planning and operation of a system that spans 23 communities, employs nearly 8,000 people and is responsible for billions of dollars worth of public transportation assets.

The TransLink Board believes the updated Compensation Plan is fair, aligned with other public organizations and is necessary for recruiting and retaining the leaders we need to keep the momentum going and continue to provide safe and reliable transportation for people in the Metro Vancouver region.

Labour

The term “unskilled labour” is a labour relations term referring to work which does not require previous training or education. This term has been used the context of bus operators as there is no previous training or education required to apply. CMBC does conduct and provide training to applicants on how to operate buses.

Overtime

All transit authorities rely on some overtime to operate the system in the most efficient way. It’s common and allows flexibility to enhance service when necessary. It is more fiscally efficient to offer overtime work to employees than have employees on standby with no work. For example, overtime may be required to cover sick leave or vacation CMBC’s average percentage of pay classified as overtime is between seven and eight per cent. Any overtime work for operators is voluntary. Bus operators sign up for their own shifts, some of them have built-in overtime. Bus operators can also volunteer for overtime to cover absences

For the most up-to-date information on the state of the system sign up for alerts and follow us on Twitter at @TransLink. For the latest media statements, check out translink.ca/jobaction. For alternative travel options during job action, please see our Stay Informed page.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

TransLink opens second round of public engagement with new Surrey Langley SkyTrain project details

TransLink has opened a new round of public engagement on the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain project, and rapid transit on 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

Following direction from the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation in July, TransLink is moving forward with project development on the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain. While current available funding would enable an extension to 166 St in Fleetwood, subject to business case approval by senior governments, TransLink has been tasked with planning for the full 16-kilometre line to 203 St in Langley City Centre. Read more »

Your ultimate 2019 guide to transit trick-or-treating

Your ultimate 2019 guide to transit trick-or-treating

You and your kiddo have planned for this day for weeks, months or even years! And now the only thing standing in the way of your epic superhero Halloween costume being unrecognizable, hidden under three layers of fleece and a raincoat, is Metro Vancouver’s unpredictably predictable rainy weather. Read more »

TransLink proposes two new major bus routes

TransLink is inviting customers and neighbours to have their say on two proposed new bus routes serving North Vancouver, Vancouver and Burnaby. During this round of engagement, customers are invited to provide their feedback on: Read more »

Wordless Wednesday: #MyTransLink October 23

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Wordless Wednesday : #MyTransLink – October 16

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Wordless Wednesday: #MyTransLink – October 9

It’s that time again for all things #MyTransLink!

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I Love Transit 2019: 40 years behind the wheel

I Love Transit 2019

It’s I Love Transit week, October 7–11, and we’re bringing you stories about our customers, staff, transit enthusiasts and all things we love about transit. 

TransLink’s a team of nearly 8,000 employees. We’re all united in support of our customers — all 500,000 of you — who depend on us to get to and from work, visit an old friend and everything else in between.

Some people come to TransLink for a job, and others come for a life-long career. Angus McIntyre is the latter, retiring from Coast Mountain Bus Company after nearly 41 years of service.

I Love Transit - Angus McIntyre

Angus began his bus operator training in August of 1969, back when buses had no right side mirrors and part of the job was to sell tokens to passengers and provide change as needed.

Through nearly 41 years of employment, Angus steered his way through four different employers, three unions and four major labour disputes.

Driving trolleybuses almost exclusively, Angus was a night owl working the evening shift most days. Even 41 years ago, a career as a bus operator provided ample flexibility with shift trades and holiday work taking Angus and his diesel buses to Richmond, Surrey and White Rock. Read more »

Wordless Wednesday: #MyTransLink – October 2

Today marks a pretty exciting occasion for #MyTransLink! We’ve hit 9,000 tags! For just under two years, #MyTransLink has been your one-stop-shop for all things transit photography. Sharing your candid, and not so candid shots in and around transit in our region.

This week, we’ve moved to a new day where our series will morph into Wordless Wednesday a day dedicated to the beauty captured through your lens.

So scroll on down to see all that was in this edition of #MyTransLink.

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#MyTransLink – September 24

Fall’s fickle weather shows in this edition of #MyTransLink. Sun, rain and fog graced the lenses of our dedicated photographer’s shots, resulting in yet another week of stunning #MyTransLink photos.

So get your scroll on and check out the week that was in this edition of #MyTransLink!

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I Love Transit 2019: K–12 students ride the bus for free, Oct. 7–11

I Love Transit 2019

Kids Ride Free

Every day is a great day to take transit, but there’s no better week to hop on a bus than I Love Transit week! From October 7–11, 2019, students in kindergarten through Grade 12 ride the bus for free! Read more »

Attend TransLink’s Open Board Meeting – September 25, 2019

 

Sept board meeting graphic

TransLink’s quarterly board meetings are open to the public and you’re invited to attend the first meeting of the year taking place next week.

If you have an interest in getting to know the ins and outs of how TransLink works, this is the meeting for you! Get a behind-the-scenes look at TransLink’s mandate, responsibilities, budget and more! Read more »

#MyTransLink – September 17

Here we are again with another week of awe-inspiring photos of the beautiful region so many of us are fortunate to work, live and play in. #MyTransLink is your one-stop-shop for the very best in transit photos shot by you — our dedicated and tremendously talented photographers.

So get your scroll on and check out the week that was in this edition of #MyTransLink!

Read more »

Get active and choose active travel to and from school

I Love Transit week is coming!

From October 7–11, we pay a little extra attention to all the things we love about transit, including the role TransLink can play in helping children choose active travel to and from school.

Active kids are healthy kids!

Did you know: from October 7–11 kids ride the bus for free? That’s right, a free week of bus only travel for kindergarten to grade 12 students!

Did you also know: The Canadian 24 hour movement guidelines recommends that youth ages 5 -17 participate in 60 “sweat” minutes daily? Walking, biking, skateboarding, or taking public transit to and from school is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise, and a feeling of independence!

Active Travel

FUN FACT: The entire TransLink fleet of buses are equipped with bike racks (size dependent) to help encourage multi-modal transit!

 

A Walking school bus allows children to walk to school together accompanied by adult volunteers and is a great way for children to foster friendships and create better understanding of their local areas.

Is driving to school inevitable? Try parking just a few blocks away (5 minutes) and walk with your kids. You’ll free up space in the school zone, get some fresh air, and have a chance to hear about your child’s day! Taking transit? Consider hopping off one stop early and get those steps in while enjoying some quality time.

 

For more tips and resources visit the Schools tab at: translink.ca/travelsmart

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Welcome to your new UBC Exchange!

If you’ve been in the neighbourhood of UBC Exchange as of late, you’ll likely have noticed some big changes. TransLink and the University of British Columbia joined forces to deliver a massive overhaul of this vital transit exchange that serves not only the students, but also the growing community of the University Endowment Lands. Read more »