Buses roll, city back to normal

Buses are back on the road as of Friday morning. HRM and the Amalgamated Transit Union finally voted on an agreement Tuesday.

By Megan Marrelli-Dill

Bus riders
Bus picks up passengers on Coburg Rd. (Megan Marrelli-Dill photo)

Buses are back on the road as of Friday morning. HRM and the Amalgamated Transit Union finally voted on an agreement Tuesday.

Even though transit is free until March 31 and February passes are being honoured throughout April, some Haligonians are still bitter about the six week loss of service that created inconvenience.

They’re upset with how long the strike lasted in the first place.

Kellie Potter, a resident of Dartmouth, N.S. tweeted, “A deal has been reached in the #transitstrike! Now people like my Mom and my blind family member can get around the city again!”

During the strike, transportation for people with disabilities was initially shut down. On February 20, however, limited service started up again.

The HRM says this was “due to the distress and suffering being caused by the strike to vulnerable residents of HRM – those citizens who already have very limited mobility options and depend on Metro Transit’s Access-A-Bus service.”

But it wasn’t just those with limited mobility who suffered. The strike took a toll on wallets across the city.

Halifax actor Mark Adams couldn’t pay his bills without the buses. In his blog he writes,“the transit strike has left me in near financial ruin. So much so, that I haven’t been able to pay my phone bill this month. As of this morning at 9am, it’s temporarily disabled.”

Now that buses are back, roads are far less crowded (Megan Marrelli-Dill photo)

Cab companies, on the other hand, thrived off of a bus-free Halifax.

Driver Dave’s taxi usually specializes in Stanfield Airport pickups. This month, it’s had plenty more passengers.

Zoe Monahan works for Driver Dave’s. She says,“we’ve definitely had a lot of people calling for cabs during the day, mostly our regular customers calling if they needed to go somewhere within the city, but I think now that [the strike] is over it will probably go back to normal.”

It may be unfair to blame bus drivers for our empty wallets, though.

One driver, who has been on the job for almost 20 years, is disappointed with the media’s coverage of the strike.

“They say we make too much money, you know, that we’re all prima donnas. I stopped reading comments on media sites,” she says.

It took eight years behind the wheel before she got a weekend off. For 16 years, she worked split shifts; “12-hour days for eight hours pay,” she says. “In my 30 years of work history, this is the strangest job structure I’ve seen.”

With the new agreement in place, she will receive better vacation time as well as a two per cent pay increase.

She is still optimistic about her first day back. “I have some faith in the public that they won’t engage in nastiness. Hope for the best but expect the worst,” she says.

Related Audio: 

Access-A-Bus driver Gerald M. talks about getting back on the road