Nova Scotia

Private buses could help during strike, councillor says

A Halifax regional councillor says the city should look at using private buses to help regular transit users get around as the Metro Transit strike enters its third week.

Union to slow Access-A-Bus service for 10 minutes

A Halifax regional councillor says the city should use private buses to help regular transit users get around as the Metro Transit strike continues for a third week.

Preston Coun. David Hendsbee said the city needs to look at some form of alternative service delivery.

"I think we should entertain offers from the private sector — be it shuttle bus companies, charter companies, even the tour boat operators," he said Saturday.

"Let them provide some offers to the municipality to consider for other options to get people moving around."

Hendsbee said he would like those businesses to approach the city with plans for transporting commuters.

Private bus operators could use HRM's car pool sites and possibly shopping centre parking lots, he said.

But Hendsbee said there could be a concern with union members intimidating private operators.

"My only concern, though, is that some of the transit union personnel might call them scabs and everything else like that.  I think that they're going to use their union intimidation tactics to try to discourage anyone," he said.

"But I think the industry needs to step forward to help our citizens to get around better."

Access-a-Buses to be delayed by 10 minutes

Amagalmated Transit Union president Ken Wilson said the city should settle the strike. (CBC)
Ken Wilson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 508, said a simpler solution would be for the city to accept the union's offer of binding arbitration in order to get regular employees back on the road.

Meanwhile, striking transit workers will slow down any renewal of the city's Access-a-Bus service for people with mobility problems.

Metro Transit plans to put some of those buses back on the road Monday.

Wilson said managers driving off the lot in Burnside will be delayed at the picket line for 10 minutes.

"We're prepared to hold the line for 10 minutes. If the bus is scheduled to leave at 5:30 a.m., for example, the employer will agree to have the bus at the line at 5:20 a.m. We'll hold it for 10 minutes,  we'll open the lines and then let the bus go at its scheduled departure time," he said.

Wilson said management has agreed to the 10- minute freeze at the picket line.

Daniel Towsey, who regularly used  the service before the strike, is angry with both the striking drivers and management at Metro Transit.

"Other people have options. They can walk, take a taxi, whatever they want. When you're disabled and have to use a wheelchair, you have no other options," Towsey said Friday.

The Metro Transit strike began Feb. 2.