Feb 1, 2009

Nightmare strike over

Under the government threat of back to work legislation, the Ottawa transit strike has come to an end. Saturday's ratification vote by striking drivers, mechanics and dispatchers was the final step to bring the affair to an end. City Council had already voted 100% in favour of acceptance on a tentative deal with the union. Both sides agreed that all outstanding issues would be sent to arbitration.

With Labour Minister Rona Ambrose threatening a decision that all issues would go to binding arbitration, the city and union came to a deal that salvage what had already been agreed to.

Mechanics and service people began returning to work on Saturday to start getting buses ready for a return to service. According to the OC Transit web page, the O-Train service will resume on Monday February 2. Also, approximately half the fleet of 1,000 buses will be ready on the first day of service. Transit routes will have to operate at a reduced level while the bus fleet is getting readied for a return to full operation.

The city announced some incentives to lure transit riders back on the bus:

  • December bus passes will be valid in February
  • All train and bus service will be free until Feb. 15.
  • Free evening and weekend bus service throughout the month of February.
  • Day passes discounted to $5 instead of $7.
  • Free rides for seniors every Wednesday throughout the rest of 2009.

The strike began on December 10, 2009. That adds up to 52 days on strike. For the people of Ottawa it was something that went on longer than it should have. We must remember that a transit strike effects not only transit users but also every citizen of the city. There was traffic chaos, shops closed because employees stopped showing up for work and taxis were hard to come by. Those that chose to walk were in weather that went down to below -20 Celsius.

Other lengthy transit strikes:
  • 2001 Calgary 50 days.
  • 2001 Vancouver 129 days.
  • 1981 Quebec City 9 months
  • 1976 Winnipeg 47 days.


nixtuff said...

9 months without bus service?
Well it is Quebec City - geographically not *that* big. Some people (IE me) are on transit for an hour to get to work. So assuming that you walk an hour (about 5KM) there is actually a large portion of the city that you could still access.

Winnipeg is more spread out. 47 days is a very long time.

Ottawa too

But look at Vancouver. Even during the strike there was transit service. Why? The Skytrain is automated and continued to run.

Outside of Vancouver, we seem to have 3 options.

A - continue to have strikes that take down the entire system and hurt the most vulnerable in society

B - ban all strikes and tell bus drivers that whatever management wants them to do is now what they have to do


C - try to find some "middle ground" compromise solution, like keeping certain routes running even during a strike while taking most, but not all, of the network down.

buschic said...

you forgot the 1998-1999 HSR strike in Hamilton, nov, 3rd 2008 till January 23 1999...

Andy said...

Buschic, you are right. That one lasted 90 days. It's amazing that a strike in Toronto can last only a weekend before the Ontario government forces the workers back. Why is it that only the TTC riders get special treatment?