Jan 19, 2009

Comparing bus drivers' deals

To help answer some of the questions about the bus drivers' work scheduling The Ottawa Citizen compared the way work is scheduled in Ottawa with some of the major transit companies in the country.

In transit companies across the country, management sets the schedules and the drivers pick the work according to a system of seniority established by the transit unions. But there are differences in approach and process.

Seniority is power in transit contracts across Canada 
Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009

- The spread: This is the number of hours over which the splits have to be done. Currently it is 12 hours but the city wants to formally extend it to 14 hours.

- Hours of work guaranteed in a day: The minimum is six hours but in its last offer the city increased it to seven hours. The union wants eight hours. A quirk in the guaranteed hours, which the city wants to eliminate, is that some drivers can work four-and-half hours but get paid for six.

- Drivers' wages: The average daily wage is $24 an hour.


- Work scheduling: Bus company managers assign the work usually four times a year. During the Winter Olympics, the work will be posted six times. The schedules are posted and drivers pick their shifts, according to seniority. Union representatives do review the schedules and suggest changes if necessary but they have no veto power.

- Shift work: About 60 per cent of shifts are straight and 32 per cent are split shifts with up to 30 minutes for unpaid breaks. The last eight per cent of runs must be completed within nine hours: effectively as a result, 68 per cent of the runs are straight.

- The spread:

Maximum of 12 hours.

- Hours of work guaranteed: 7.5 hours.

- Wages: Minimum of $19.85 an hour for trainee, up to a maximum of $28 an hour.

*Coast Mountain Bus Co., a subsidiary of TransLink


- Work scheduling: The schedules are done by Edmonton transit managers five times a year for sign-up. A joint union-management committee reviews the computer-generated schedules to iron out any differences and then the list is posted. Workers pick their shifts in order of seniority.

- Shift work: Straight and split shifts. Those with seniority can avoid split shifts and weekend work.

- The spread:

Maximum of 12 hours.

- Hours of work guaranteed: Information not available at time of writing.

- Wages: $21 an hour for the first year up to a maximum of $26.72.


- Work scheduling: Done by transit managers four times a year but the union can review and request changes if problems arise.

- Shift work: A normal part of the business. Forty-seven per cent of the shifts are straight runs and 53 per cent are splits.

- The spread:

Maximum of 12 hours.

- Hours of work guaranteed: 7.5 hours.

- Wages: $21.46 an hour for new drivers, up to a maximum of $26.83.


- Work scheduling: Montreal urban transit (STM) managers do up the work assignments five times a year and posts them for driver selection. Shifts are chosen according to seniority.

- Shift work: For the regular weekday assignments, 75 per cent are split shifts and 25 per cent straight. On weekends, it is 50-50 between straight and splits.

- The spread:

Maximum of 12.5 hours on weekdays and 9.5 hours on weekends.

- Hours of work guaranteed: 7.5 hours.

- Wages: Minimum of $21.33 an hour, up to a maximum of $24.73.


- Work scheduling: Done by TTC managers 11 times a year, the operators get to pick their work. The unions are consulted on the scheduling. The work is chosen according to seniority.

- Shift work: A combination of straight and split runs.

- The spread:

Maximum 12.5 hours.

- Hours of work guaranteed: 8 hours.

- Wages: Under a new union contract that gave workers a three-per-cent wage increase, a new operator will earn about $21 an hour and the maximum is a little over $28.

Related link:
Comparing bus drivers' deals

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