Transit strike disrupts daily life for KPU students

As buses stopped running and ride services hiked in price, students struggled to attend classes and fulfill additional obligations

Many KPU students were unable to attend classes on Jan. 22 and 23 due to the transit strike. (Nyamat Singh)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University students expressed their frustration over difficulties attending classes as buses stopped running during the transit strike from Jan. 22 to 24.

Students using public transport as their main mode of commuting had to either miss their classes or seek other options to get to the KPU campuses in Surrey, Richmond, or Langley.

“It was absolutely horrible. I had to miss school that day because there was no way I could come,” says KPU student Anita Ehirim, who had her classes in Surrey on the day of the strike.

“I live in White Rock. So, I have to take one bus from where I live to White Rock Centre, and then I take the 321 [bus], which [goes] to Surrey Central, and then I stop at Newton, and from Newton to [the Surrey campus].”

Prices on ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft surged during those days due to demand with some increasing up to five times, says KPU student Sehleen Kaur. 

“I live in Surrey and work in Guilford. So, usually for Uber it’s $10 from my home to Guilford, but on that day, it was $50,” Kaur says. 

Uber sent an email to customers on Jan. 22 stating that they capped surge pricing and offered “incentives” to encourage more drivers on the road. 

Kirandeep Kaur Chatha, another KPU student, says her instructor provided notes for those who missed the class, but she has concerns about doing well on her assignment. 

“We have the notes, but the type of teaching you get in-person … you can’t get by sitting at home and having the notes,” Kaur Chatha says.

“I feel like I missed that class and … when I’ll do the assignment, [the] concepts will not be clear [to me].” 

Fulfilling daily tasks was also challenging for KPU student Emma Elliott. She usually spends a couple of hours studying in the library after classes, but this time, Elliott had to go home immediately.

The Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC)’s employees started job action on Jan. 6 with an overtime ban. They escalated the strike by withdrawing all services at 3:00 am on Jan. 22 for 48 hours.

The main issue was to ensure wages of CMBC employees are in line with those of other TransLink workers. CMBC’s employees started job action on Jan. 6 with an overtime ban. They escalated the strike by withdrawing all services at 3:00 am on Jan. 22 for 48 hours.

CMBC and CUPE4500 have accepted recommendations from a meditator, which will avert the proposed 72-hour strike that was set to take place tomorrow. 

Those in control of public transit should have done something to make sure people who rely on their services would not be affected, Elliott says.

“My sister works for Compass, so I hear about it all the time,” Elliot says.  “I understand why they’re doing it, but I just wish it could have been organized or planned better to have some kind of backup plan for what was happening. A lot of people were out of luck on Monday and Tuesday.”