B.C. Transit strike affects bus services in the Fraser Valley

KSA offers carpooling services to students affected by the strike

Fraser Valley BC Transit employees are on strike as their union, CUPE Local 561, disputes their employer, First Transit, over wage increases. (Flickr/Stephen Rees)

Fraser Valley BC Transit employees are on strike as their union, CUPE Local 561, disputes their employer, First Transit, over wage increases. (Flickr/Stephen Rees)

On March 20, BC Transit employees in the Fraser Valley went on a strike. Their employer First Transit, a contractor for BC Transit, continues to negotiate their contract with the CUPE Local 561 union

Bus service has been suspended in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Mission, Agassiz-Harrison, along with the Fraser Valley express that connects Metro Vancouver to the Fraser Valley until further notice. The strike impacts nearly 13,000 boardings per day

Customers in need of transportation to renal dialysis, cancer treatment, and multiple sclerosis appointments can still access the HandyDART service which continues to operate during the strike.

First Transit is in dispute with their employees who demand a wage increase of up to 16 per cent over five years. According to CUPE 561, the disruption is caused due to a disparity in wage and working conditions between Fraser Valley employees and drivers in neighbouring areas in addition to the need for a pension. Transit workers in the Fraser Valley earn 32 per cent less than other operators in the Lower Mainland.

“BC Transit understands the frustration felt by customers, and the impact the current job action in the Fraser Valley is having on everyone involved,” BC Transit wrote in an email statement to The Runner.  

“As this is a labour dispute between BC Transit’s contractor, First Transit, and their unionized employees, BC Transit is not at liberty to discuss the issue. Our organization is closely monitoring the situation and hopes the parties will find resolution soon,” they wrote. 

The Kwantlen Student Association offers carpooling services such as Poparide and Liftango to help students and faculty commute to campus. Students who register for Poparide through their student email get a $5 credit on their first ride, and registration for both services is free for students and staff. 

“We really want to encourage students to use the [carpooling programs] because it is a little more cost efficient as opposed to using Uber back and forth every day, which can definitely rack up in terms of costs,” says KSA MultiPass Program Coordinator Krystal Macabeo.  

The partnership between the KSA and the carpooling services started in 2020 after Car2Go, a car rental program, retracted their services in North America. The services also allow students to split the payments at their discretion. 

Macabeo says Poparide and Liftango do not hike their prices during peak hours in the morning, unlike Uber and Lyft. After downloading the app, students are matched with people around their area who want to commute to the same place. Using the app regularly allows students to set up a schedule without having to do so repeatedly. 

Macabeo says the KSA is open to any feedback students have to help them during this time. 

For more information about the discounted carpooling services students can visit the KSA website. To receive alerts about BC Transit, people can sign up at bctransit.com