VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Job action has been stepped up and the effects are being felt across the bus and SeaBus system. As the transit strike continues in Metro Vancouver, Transit Police officers are watching carefully.
Unionized bus drivers are refusing to work overtime Friday, and Unifor says 10 to 15 per cent of its service is affected system-wide.
Passengers are starting to feel it, with longer waits and bigger crowds.
Dave Jones with the Transit Police says they’re always monitoring, in case pressure builds on the system and people shift to other services, like the SkyTrain.
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“When we have large events and that, we look at where crowding can become an issue, such as safety into the platforms and just crowd management, and so as the strike progresses, those are things that we’ll look out for,” he says.
Transit users could start seeing more officers out policing the SkyTrain stations, in hopes of making sure everything stays safe and orderly as passengers can start to feel frustrated with delays
So far, with SeaBus cancellations and some bus delays, Jones hasn’t seen too much of an impact to policing.
But as the strike goes on, people will start taking alternative routes, which could mean more people on the SkyTrain, more crowding at transit hubs, and more work for officers to manage crowds.
“We’re out here to manage public safety first, and make sure everyone is able to move safely through the system, and at the same time, it will be looking at the bus locations and making sure that if there become crowds or back-ups within major bus loops,” Jones says.
Police will be looking to see if some points become busier.
“We’ve seen and heard from some individuals who have said they’re starting to pick their routes – I believe three-quarters of SkyTrain passengers take some form of a bus as part of their transportation in the day. Some people have talked about just re-organizing their routes, so they maybe taking the SkyTrain or the rail system for their entire trip,” Jones says.
In a worst-case scenario where bus drivers move to a full-ban, policing will become more complex.
“I don’t envision that, if the buses go out, a bunch of people are going to go out and buy cars suddenly for a short period of time and make that their route of transportation,” Jones says.
The union says the same thing will happen next Monday, Wednesday and Friday, adding to the maintenance overtime ban that’s been in place since Nov. 1 affecting SeaBus sailings.
Talks between Unifor and the Coast Mountain Bus Company broke off for a second time on Thursday.