Transit Disruptions – Week of November 25, 2019

MEMO – Transit Disruptions


On Nov. 20, Unifor — the union representing over 5,000 bus drivers, transit maintenance workers and Seabus operators in Metro Vancouver — announced plans for a full service-stoppage on Nov. 27, 28 and 29. 

The union has been participating in escalating job action since Nov. 1, including a refusal to wear uniforms and work overtime. But this latest announcement means a full stoppage of service — no buses or seabuses during those three days — if an agreement is not reached between the union and Coast Mountain Bus Company, the organization that manages Vancouver’s bus and Seabus service.

It’s a huge step, and would mark the first full stoppage of the city’s bus system in nearly two decades.

How will this affect my commute?

No bus drivers means no buses. And that means a lot of people will have difficulty getting where they need to go.

What about the Skytrain?

They aren’t on strike — yet.

Skytrain workers are represented by a different union than bus drivers and Seabus operators. However, they’re also going through contract negotiations right now, and much like with the bus drivers, those negotiations aren’t going smoothly.

SkyTrain workers vote 96.8% in favour of job action but have no immediate plans to strike.


There has been consistent news about current and future transit disruptions.  Last week, the union started limited job action by asking operators to not wear their uniforms, and by asking mechanics to stop working overtime.  This week, the parties are back at the negotiating table, but if there is no resolution, the union will ask bus drivers to stop working overtime.  As has been observed with the Seabus trip cancellations, the transit system runs on overtime, so when bus drivers stop working overtime, there will be gaps in bus service.  SkyTrain and Canada Line are run by different companies, so they will still be operating, but not everyone lives close to SkyTrain.

We don’t want to increase your anxiety, so we’d like to give you some actions to help your teams be proactive.

  1. Talk to your teams and make sure they are aware of the possibility of increasing disruptions to transit.  Get people to think about how they will get to work without bus service.  How much longer will it take?  Do they have access to a ride or a car to get to work?
  2. Are there schedule changes that could help staff get to work on time and spend less time on travel?
  3. Ask staff to record their hours accurately.  We want to ensure that people staying late are recognized for extra work. Everyone may have to make adjustments, increases and decreases in hours, and accurate recording will ensure people are compensated and recognized accordingly.
  4. Write to politicians, the bus company, the union to let them know how much you rely on the bus system for your work, your family and for the people you support.

Coast Mountain Bus Company:

Minister responsible for Transit:

Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing:

Room 310, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC V8V 1X4

Unifor – Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director

 Your MLA:                                       Information.aspx

Please let us know of any other creative ideas your teams come up with to ensure we continue to provide the services the people we support need in their homes and in community.

A number of people have told me they wrote to their MLA’s and the Ministers.  Thank you to everyone who has written to the Ministers and their MLA’s to express their concern about transit service.  It is such an important part of living in Vancouver for so many people.

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