CUPE 4500 president says Coast Mountain budget strategy is undermining the service
SURREY—Current media coverage surrounding the loss of 60 maintenance positions at Coast Mountain Bus Company neglects to mention the elimination of up to 17 supervisor positions that is already having a negative impact on the service, says the union representing front-line transit and maintenance (skilled trades) supervisors for Coast Mountain and BC Transit - Victoria.
“Over the past several months, Coast Mountain has eliminated about 11.5 per cent of our members through two waves of downsizing—first nine transit supervisor positions, and just recently eight maintenance supervisor positions,” says CUPE 4500 president Rob Woods. “This is already causing a host of problems, from service delays and longer response times to increased fare evasions and compromised public safety.”
Transit supervisors are often the first responders to accidents, fire, and other situations that have an impact on transit service. They organize and negotiate with emergency responders, often helping to get transit services back into service through on-scene emergency management.
“Without transit supervisors, in a lot of cases transit services are completely stuck until an incident has been cleared, or significant re-routes are put in place that will severely inconvenience customers,” says Woods. With significant service delays caused by downsizing, he adds, longer response times to emergencies potentially increase liability and compromise public safety.
“We’ve had some near misses and close calls since the first round of cuts,” says Woods, noting a recent example in which a dump truck made contact with trolley feeder wires and brought them down on top of his truck. When transit supervisors finally arrived at the scene, they learned that the truck driver had actually grabbed the wires by hand in an attempt to remove them from his truck.
“It is mind boggling that he did not get electrocuted,” says Woods. “These are the kinds of events the supervisors can prevent from happening. We’ve suggested ways for Coast Mountain to reduce costs. Cutting supervisors is no way to do it.”