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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: State of the System

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

The first new Canada Line train arrives and new escalator opens!

Exciting things are happening for SkyTrain’s Canada Line!

We’re adding 24 SkyTrain cars, or 12 trains, so we can increase Canada Line service by 30 per cent for our customers. We’re also installing new escalators at Waterfront, Vancouver City Centre and Yaletown–Roundhouse stations to help with increased customer demand and passenger flow throughout the stations. Read more »

Refresh of 22nd Street Station bus exchange now complete!

We’ve some good news!

Upgrades to the bus exchange at 22nd Street Station are now complete. Let’s talk about just how cool the station is because let’s be honest, it’s often overlooked amongst the architectural marvels of our vast transit network!

One of the older transit hubs in the region, the elevated 22nd Street Station was built in 1985 as part of the original version of the Expo Line. Located on a hill above the Queensborough Bridge interchange, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Fraser River and Mount Baker from the SkyTrain platform.

But, it’s what lies below the SkyTrain station that matters most: an eight-bay bus loop that was constructed along with the original station. This is what gives the exchange its true value to our transit network.

Read more »

TransLink releases report on late-night transit service

TransLink today released the results of an independent technical study of trade-offs associated with operating SkyTrain all night Fridays and Saturdays as well as a report outlining other transit options that could be effective in getting late night patrons home safely.

The independent, year-long technical study found that to ensure the SkyTrain system could be properly maintained, significant operational changes would be required including a reduction of SkyTrain operating hours during weekdays and full closures of the system on some statutory holidays. Read more »

This is Vancouver’s newest Instagram hotspot: SkyTrain’s Joyce–Collingwood Station

 

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Say hello to Metro Vancouver’s hottest new Instagram spot! 📸 ^sk

A post shared by TransLink (@translink) on

The upgrades at SkyTrain’s Joyce–Collingwood Station are now complete and not only is there a new, upgraded elevator and escalator to improve passenger access, there’s a colourful public art installation that wraps around the new stationhouse and the nearby bus loop! Read more »

Know before you go! Wintry weather in Metro Vancouver

SkyTrain Attendants will be staffing all trains.

In anticipation of the wintry weather, preparations are underway to provide as much service as possible for customers, but expect less frequency on SkyTrain than you may be used to. Read more »

Upgrades coming to 22nd Street bus exchange!

You asked, we listened!

As part of the approved Phase 1 investments in the Mayors’ 10-year Vision, upgrades for the 22nd Street Bus Exchange were identified.

Read more »

First look: the upgraded Commercial–Broadway Station

Get ready to experience Commercial–Broadway Station in a whole new way! The new platform, Platform 5, opens on February 2, along with two new elevators, four new up/down escalators, a new walkway over Broadway and two new “next train” information displays.

TransLink invited news media for a behind-the-scenes tour in advance of its opening. Of course, The Buzzer blog was there too! Check out the photos:

All-door boarding coming to Commercial–Broadway SkyTrain station!

Starting February 2, 2019, there will be a new option for getting on and off Expo Line trains heading westbound towards downtown Vancouver. A new platform at Commercial–Broadway Station will soon be open for customers, bringing all-door boarding to SkyTrain for the first time.

Read more »

New bus shelters and more coming to Nanaimo Bus Exchange!

Nanaimo Bus Exchange rendering

Construction is expected to begin in early 2019 and conclude in late 2019

Exciting news for those of you who access the Nanaimo Bus Exchange on your daily commute!

Read more »

Attention Delta residents! Westham Island bridge closures coming soon

Westham Island Bridge

UPDATE – February 1, 2019 – There will be overnight closures from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on the following nights:

  • January 28- Feb 2
  • Feb 11-16
  • Feb 18-23

Two 30-minute daytime closures will be required every day, except Sundays, for the duration of construction.

* No closures from Sunday night into Monday morning.

If you are a pedestrian/cyclist accessing the bridge, please note:

Pedestrian and cyclist access will be maintained throughout construction with an escort. (There was pedestrian/cyclist restricted access at night for the last few weeks, but those restrictions have been lifted.)

The Westham Island Bridge connects Ladner with Westham Island. It opened to traffic on March 29, 1910. The bridge is approximately 325 metres long and consists of a swing span that opens for marine passage below.

The bridge is 108 years old and requires maintenance and rehabilitation work as part of the TransLink Maintenance and Repair Program to keep it safe and reliable.

Major rehabilitation work on the bridge began this fall and will continue until spring 2019. Work involves repairing and replacing components across the entire bridge, including piles and pile caps, floor beams and stringers below the deck, deck and handrail, and the swing mechanism.

During closures, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists will be allowed to cross with an escort; the bridge will be closed to all other traffic.

 Overnight closures will be from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on the following nights:

  • December 10 – 15
  • December 17 – 22

There will be no closures from Sunday night into Monday morning and no daytime closures during December. Daytime closures will be scheduled in the new year.

Closure details, including dates of future closures, will be shared through the following channels:

There may be closures of the swing span, the details of which will be communicated regularly to ensure users of the navigational channel are aware of any restrictions.

 Why does the bridge have to be closed?

The bridge must be closed at various times throughout construction to ensure the safety of the workers and bridge users, and to accommodate construction equipment.

Is the bridge safe?

The bridge is safe for use; however, as one of the oldest bridges in the region, there are elements of it that are nearing the end of their useful lives. The upcoming rehabilitation work ensures the bridge remains safe and reliable.

We thank bridge users and nearby residents for their patience while we improve one of the oldest bridges in the region.

Make sure you check www.translink.ca/westham for up-to-date information.

Have questions? For more information, please email Westham.Island.Bridge@TransLink.ca or contact Customer Information at 604-953-3333.

Author: Tanushree Pillai

4 Winter safety tips for transit this season

Winter is coming to Metro Vancouver, and we want to help you be weather-wise by giving you four Winter Safety Tips for transit this season.

1. Hold on!

Read more »

Next train information set to arrive on SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium Lines


Say ‘goodbye’ to the red LED signs on SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium Lines, and get ready to say ‘hello’ to coloured signs with real-time transit information! That means you’ll know exactly when your train is coming, upcoming trains and where they’re going. Read more »

A little more about that colour green and our new buses

TransLink Green New Flyer Bus

Colours in the green-yellow spectrum are perceived as conveying movement and speed.

As we mentioned in a previous post, we’re changing the colour of our B-Lines when the new ones launch in late 2019.

Read more »

Now showing: award-winning public artwork at Joyce–Collingwood station!

Have you checked out this amazing artwork at Joyce–Collingwood SkyTrain station yet?

We have some news to share!

For those of you who board/alight the Expo Line at Joyce–Collingwood SkyTrain station, a new piece of public art has probably drawn your attention.

Read more »