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Will the transit strike affect my Metro Vancouver bus route?

Here's how the strike action is affecting transit.
The CUPE 4500 bus strike could affect your Metro Vancouver TransLink commute in January 2024. Photo: TransLink

Commuters may face some bus delays due to the bus strike in Metro Vancouver -- but they aren't supposed to be significant at this time. 

CUPE 4500 is a union that represents over 180 transit workers, including transit and maintenance supervisors, as well as supervisors for other departments such as the fare box staff, body shop, and more.

The union issued a 72-hour strike notice to its employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), on Jan. 2 that went into effect on Jan. 3 at 8 a.m.

Job action commenced Saturday, Jan. 6 with an overtime ban, affecting all operations in the CMBC system. CMBC operates more than 96 per cent of TransLink's bus routes in Metro Vancouver.

CMBC told V.I.A. in a statement that "SkyTrain employees, bus operators, and mechanics are not taking job action" and that the strike is isolated to supervisors, adding that there are currently no "significant impacts" to service. 

CMBC President and General Manager Michael McDaniel added that the company will monitor the ongoing job action, but does "not expect the union’s overtime ban to have significant impacts [on] the delivery of transit services."

But CUPE 4500 warns that its supervisors are necessary to keep the operations running smoothly and that commuters should prepare for possible delays. 

The union confirmed to V.I.A. Monday that there would be no additional strike action at the start of the week. However, it will continue with its current job action and its employees often work overtime. 

While the transportation authority said there wouldn't be any significant service disruptions due to strike action, several locals have shared photos of cramped SkyTrain platforms or questioned why their bus was late. 

As of Monday at noon, TransLink had over 173 transit alerts listed for buses but many of these are due to construction, mechanical issues, or winter schedule changes. 

Why is there a bus strike in Metro Vancouver? 

Talks previously broke down between the union and CMBC after their collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2022; the parties didn’t start bargaining until Oct. 16, 2023. 

The union voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action on Dec. 22, 2023.

CUPE 4500 President Chris Gindhu said that the union hoped to "negotiate a fair collective agreement" that avoided service disruptions, adding that the job action was a "last resort" to negotiate a fair deal. 

"To date, Coast Mountain has been unwilling to address our key issues," he said in a press release.

McDaniel urges the union to "return to the bargaining table with realistic expectations" and says it has been offered the same wage agreed to by all other CMBC employees.

According to TransLink, CMBC serves the largest transit area in Canada and has nearly 6,000 employees.

Translink Customers can receive real-time information by signing up for Transit Alerts, following the TransLink X (Twitter) account, or by calling Customer Information.