Transit union criticizes management over winter service woes

The union representing Saskatoon Transit workers is criticizing the service’s management in light of frequent disruptions this winter.

“Transit has become completely unreliable,” wrote a spokesperson for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 in a media release issued on Tuesday.

Late last month, Saskatoon Transit director James McDonald told city council that a spate of route cancellations during the coldest months of the year were due to a backlog of buses needing repairs, coupled with a shortage of parts.

This week, city councillors on the transportation committee called for a full investigation into why routes had to be cancelled, after it was established that Saskatoon appears to be the only sizeable city in Western Canada whose transit service experienced the level of problems seen this winter.

“It’s a failure of management to provide proper scheduling and preventative maintenance planning,” wrote the union spokesperson. The release went on to quote ATU Canada president John Di Nino suggesting that McDonald “step off the bus and hand over the steering wheel to someone who can operate it.”

The union ended with a demand for the city to move to get transit service levels fully restored.

During Monday’s transportation committee meeting, McDonald said a policy of not allowing any bus with a “check engine” light on out onto the road had also contributed to shortages of buses to operate on routes. He said they’ve been able to reduce the backlog since they changed the policy to only keep buses out of service if they have problems with critical systems such as steering, brakes and heating.

City staff are expected to report back to the committee in April with options and cost estimates for having the investigation into this winter’s transit failures done internally by transit department staff, by the city auditor’s office or by a third party.

Transit union criticizes management over winter service woes | The Star Phoenix