KELOWNA – UBC Okanagan students and staff are banding together to get through the transit strike.
Since it was announced Nov. 10 that members of Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 would walk off the job people who rely on public transit have been left scrambling.
One Kelowna mother worries she won’t be able to get to her regular medical appointments but students at UBC Okanagan have arguable been hit the hardest. Many rely on the bus for their daily commute to and from class, work and elsewhere.
Gary Hartung is the manager of ancillary services at the university. He says that parking is bad at the best of times but estimates there are 200 more vehicles parked on campus now.
“Yesterday there were 125 cars in overflow and another 40 to 50 parked on the edges,” he says. “And then there is turnover so it’s even more than that.”
On the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 15 UBCO’s largest lot was almost entirely full with cars parked on both sides of curbs and borders. There is now only space for one vehicle to pass by since parked cars are often jammed into every space available.
None of them will be ticketed, Hartung says.
“This is a unique circumstance,” he says. “If you’re parked on a curb we’re not going to give you a ticket for that. If you’re blocking someone in or haven’t paid we are still ticketing for that.”
Students and faculty have also started using a UBCO Ride Share Facebook page to organize rides. Membership sits around 1,500 with roughly 50 new members in the last two days, says group spokesperson Nikita Taylor.
"It was originally founded... as an on-campus resource for automotive enthusiasts," Taylor says. "We have never focused on sharing rides but with the bus strike, as many of our members have vehicles, they are happy to pick up any other students on their route to UBCO."
The free service is getting more popular with every day that passes without a resolution between the union and their employer First Canada.
“It causes frustration with people parking but so far they have been understanding,” Hartung says. “Nobody’s been rude to us or anything but I guess they know there’s nothing I can do. My lot is full.”
The bus drivers' union is asking for the same pay regardless of bus size, a tiered wage system and a retirement package.
Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 president Scott Lovell says he has not heard from First Canada since talks broke down Nov. 9.
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