British Columbia

Downed trolley wires on busy street won't be repaired quickly due to job action, TransLink says

Buses will be detoured Friday morning in downtown Vancouver after a bus brought down some live trolley wires Thursday evening.

Union is imposing an overtime ban for maintenance workers in Metro Vancouver

A transit bus brought down live trolley wires at the intersection of Robson and Seymour in downtown Vancouver Thursday evening. (CBC)

Buses will be detoured Friday morning in downtown Vancouver after a bus brought down some live trolley wires at a busy intersection Thursday evening.

A TransLink spokesperson said the repairs are being made at Robson and Seymour streets. They could not be done Thursday night due to the ongoing job action, which includes an overtime ban for maintenance workers.

Buses are being detoured while repairs are done.

The bus appeared to have been taking a left turn from Robson on to Seymour when the wires came down sometime after 5 p.m. 

The trolley wires landed on a car with a woman and child inside, both of whom made it out safely, said Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. 

Traffic was briefly closed at the intersection as crews made sure the area was safe. The bus was removed later in the evening, although the trolley wires were still down.

Earlier in the day, TransLink warned passengers to prepare for unpredictable disruptions in bus service on Friday after the union representing bus drivers announced the escalation of the ongoing job action.

Talks between Unifor and Coast Mountain Bus Company broke down Thursday, and the union said it would implement a driver overtime ban starting Friday and continuing Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week. The action is expected to reduce overall bus service by up to 10 per cent.

The overtime ban for bus drivers is expected to lead to reductions in service by up to 10 per cent. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"This job action will be difficult to predict for our customers. Some routes will have gaps in service and there will likely be overcrowding," TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews said in a press release.

"Customers should give themselves extra time to travel to their destination and watch for updates on service levels on our usual customer service channels and resources."

Unifor members began limited job action on Nov. 1. Job action to date has consisted of drivers not wearing uniforms and an overtime ban for maintenance and SeaBus workers. The latter has resulted in delayed service on dozens of bus routes and the cancellation of 120 SeaBus sailings.

On Thursday, after the latest round of negotiations ended without a deal, chief Unifor negotiator Gavin McGarrigle said the two sides had made some progress on working condition but none on wages and benefits.

Gavin McGarrigle of Unifor holds a press conference discussing job action in New Westminster, British Columbia on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

'We need a deal that's realistic'

CMBC president Michael McDaniel said he's disappointed an agreement couldn't be reached, describing the transit company's latest proposal as generous.

"This enhanced proposal directly focuses on working conditions. This is the exact issue the union has asked us to improve," McDaniel said in a news release.

"Wage demands over and above the increases we have already offered will come at the expense of services for customers. We need a deal that's realistic."

According to CMBC, the most recent offer includes a guarantee of at least 40 minutes of recovery time for each shift, and clarifies that drivers are allowed to use the washroom whenever necessary.

The offer also includes pay increases of $6,100 annually on the top wage for drivers over the next four years, and $10,000 for skilled trades. That would bring the top annual wages to $69,900 for drivers and $88,000 for skilled trades.


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