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Public transit - if it isn't safe for drivers, it isn't safe for passengers

By: 
Sandi Mansfield

March 25, 2020

Report by a Transit Driver in Niagara Falls, member of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1582:

Well this last week and a half has been a whirlwind of activity.... 

Workers want buses cleaned and sanitized. Members have complained for years how dirty the buses were. But we were told there’s no money in the budget to deep clean buses on a regular basis if they have ever, been done. 

BTW no hand sanitizer on buses for operators. Gloves were doled out like gold. 

In the last week service was reduced first by pulling all the peak service buses off the road. The operators who lost their run were still paid full rate and given different work. Some operators where assigned to cleaning buses. We also blocked off seat behind driver to give distance. 

Then they reduced service to “Sunday service” which cuts out the only bus in town accessing the food bank (apparently there is a plan to fix that). 

Finally the buses are rear loading. 

The union has fought really hard to ensure our safety and keep everyone working, including the on call/casual operators.

A number of workers have booked off and some have had to self isolate. 

We are also in the midst of contract negotiations.

Conditions for drivers and workers on the Niagara frontier vary widely and dangerously. 

Niagara Falls transit is under the city not a transit commission and the city is all about the bucks from the casino, hotels etc. Some of the venues operated by Canadian Niagara Hotels on Clifton Hill were open on this past weekend. We had to serve them, putting us and the public at risk. Your readers might remember CNH: they own the Rainforest Cafe that had the strike for union recognition last year...that wasn’t open. 

St Catharines is under a Commission and was two weeks ahead of the rest in bus cleaning and rear door loading. Welland is about where the Falls is.

Fonthill, Niagara on the Lake and Fort Erie are served by private contractors and they dragging behind in worker and passenger safety. 

 

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