Thursday, December 11, 2008

In the news: Victims of the transit strike

Quite a few articles recently have been exploring some of the people who've been forced to make alternative arrangements as a result of the OC Transpo strike.

First off, after the University of Ottawa and Carleton University announced that they will be running shuttles to move students into, out of, and between campuses, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) said they're not prepared to rule out picketing these shuttles--most of which are intended to allow students to get to school to write exams. From

The union said it won't rule out picketing shuttles hired by local universities to help their students get to their exams during the city's transit strike.

"Most of the bus companies would never ever do anything that would be scabbing our members," [Randy] Graham [international vice-president for the Amalgamated Transit Union] said Wednesday afternoon. "We'll have to deal with it if it does occur. We have to do the things that we legally can do. And we will do it."
The situation is similar to that of elementary and high schools in the city, who were unable to receive guarantees that any yellow school buses they hired to stand in for OC Transpo service in transporting students wouldn't be picketed. As a result, the schools decided not to risk the health of students, picketers, or drivers and the onus is on students to fidn their own ways to school.

Ottawa Metro had an article about local charities whose fundraising efforts have been hindered because volunteers are unable to get to their posts, including the Salvation Army:

“We have begun to receive calls from volunteers indicating that without transportation, they will be unable to fulfill their shift,” said spokesman Michael Maidment [of the Salvation Army]. “We are working hard to identify ways to lessen the impact of the transit strike on our campaign.”

The organization’s toy distribution to needy families will also be affected.

“Families will be forced to find alternative transportation to the toy distribution centre to pick up toys for their children," said Maidment.

The strike has also had an impact on life at the Ottawa Mission.

“Half of our volunteers didn’t make it in today,” the shelter’s executive director Diane Morrison said yesterday.

And finally, the Ottawa Business Journal wrote about the possibility--and, the longer the work stoppage continues, probability--that local malls and retailers will suffer with people less able to get to shopping areas. Representatives from each of the Rideau Centre, St. Laurent, and Place D'Orléans all suggested that their traffic was down considerably in day one of the strike, although Denis Pelletier, general manager of Bayshore Shopping Centre, suggested that the fact that many of his clients come from outside the core, he might be somewhat insulated from the effects:

The Rideau Centre's Cindy VanBuskirk told OBJ that even on the first day of what some expect to be a protracted work stoppage, traffic at the downtown transit and retail hub was down noticeably.

"It's a little early on, but clearly there are fewer people in the shopping centre (today)," she said, noting that 47 per cent of Rideau Centre customers rely on public transit to get around. And while some of today's lacklustre activity could be blamed on the knee-deep snow besieging the capital, Ms. VanBuskirk said there's no way the strike won't affect the mall negatively on some level.
What kind of arrangements have you had to make getting to work or around the city with the work stoppage in place? Feel free to post (and read) stories in the 'Comments' section.


Phil in rural Ottawa said...

People find alternative transport and the ATU calls the drivers scabs? Boo! What do they expect? Let the city run the bus schedules and go back to work!

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