TransLink is making plans for commuters in case the West Coast Express is stopped by job action on the railway.
Unions representing Canadian Pacific Rail employees have served strike notice for Saturday, and the region’s transit service provider is making contingencies to have buses pick up those who are served by the express train from Mission to Vancouver.
Chris Bryan of TransLink said it wants customers to know the transit authority will replace the West Coast Express service if there is a disruption.
“We’re not going to leave them in the lurch. We will provide transit service,” he said.
“We know how much people in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and beyond to Mission depend on that service.”
The backup plan is to offer 12 to 16 buses that will run on the West Coast Express schedule, picking up passengers at the stations, and taking them to Coquitlam Central Station, where they can board SkyTrain.
Bryan said the buses will mostly run on an express route – not stopping at each WCE station – until they get to Coquitlam Central. So the trip from Mission by bus will take just five minutes longer than by train, he said.
However, the SkyTrain will make its regularly scheduled stops, and that could add up to 20 minutes to the trip downtown.
“SkyTrain is not able to compete with West Coast Express for your quick journey downtown,” he said.
TransLink is still going to offer a Sun Run schedule on April 22, and Bryan said that will also be replaced by buses if there is job action puts the brakes on the WCE. It is scheduled to leave Mission at 7 a.m.
The buses will follow the WCE Sun Run Train schedule, but they will not be as fast as the train, getting runners to the race by 8:40 a.m. for a 9 a.m. start, he said.
Two unions have authorized strikes – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Canadian Signals and Communications System Council No. 11 voted this week to joined the Teamsters Rail Conference of Canada in job action on April 21.
Bryan said there is still time to negotiate, and the two sides are still at the table.
“Serving a strike notice is part of the bargaining process that unions must follow if they want to be able to strike,” said Keith Creel, CP president and CEO, in a press release.
“We remain committed to achieving a win-win solution and urge the two unions to work closely with us and the federal mediators to achieve a positive outcome as soon as possible in the hours leading up to the deadline.”
The IBEW said there is a significant gap between the parties, while the the Teamsters union has accused CP of manufacturing a crisis.
The unions have said if there is no negotiated settlement, their workers will walk out at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.