UBC Okanagan offers tips for students and staff trying to get to class

Students and staff at UBC Okanagan are struggling to get to campus since Central Okanagan bus drivers went on strike last week.

KELOWNA – The bus drivers’ strike in Kelowna has hit students at UBC Okanagan hard enough that administrators have provided a list of alternative options available until it is resolved.

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 went on strike Thursday, Nov. 10 after negotiations with their employer, First Canada, fell apart.

ATU 1722 president Scott Lovell says he is doubtful First Canada even wants to end the dispute since he claims they collect the same amount of money they would if the buses were running. In other words, the dispute could last a long time.

While handyDART services are providing essential services only, all other commuters are left without rides. That is causing particular problems for students and staff at Kelowna’s largest post-secondary institution. Classes continue as usual during the strike, according to the UBCO website.

Parking lots are so full the university has opened four overflow lots and are allowing parking next to curbs. Parking services have also promised to stop giving tickets to students with valid passes.

UBC Okanagan have relaxed their parking rules during the Central Okanagan bus driver's strike.
UBC Okanagan have relaxed their parking rules during the Central Okanagan bus driver's strike.

A student Facebook group intended for car enthusiasts has turned into a popular place to look for rides and the City of Kelowna have shared a link to CarPool.ca and encourages students to sign up. Mayor Colin Basran says there is nothing the city can do as the bus drivers are not employed by the city.

“If your ability to attend classes or mid-terms will be impacted, consult your individual professor or instructor as soon as possible,” the UBCO website says. “Faculty are encouraged to consider a range of contingencies for the strike, depending on their particular class situation. These might include adjustments to attendance or participation policies, class delivery or office hours.”

Faculty and staff are also advised to speak to unit heads, supervisors or managers “about alternative transportation or work arrangements where possible.”

“Supervisors, managers, and heads are asked to exercise flexibility as feasible within the operational needs of their work unit,” the post says.

B.C. Transit is issueing updates on the labour dispute on the Kelowna Regional Transit News website.

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