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‘Enough is enough’: B.C. United demands end to Fraser Valley transit strike

MLAs slam NDP government for lack of decisive action
CUPE BC president Karen Ranalletta speaks at a public rally at Five Corners in downtown Chilliwack in April. B.C. United has called upon the government to make decisive action to end the strike. (Black Press File Photo/Jenna Hauck)

B.C. United is calling out the NDP government to take decisive action to bring an end to the months-long transit wokers’ strike across the Fraser Valley.

In a release issued on Friday (June 2), B.C. United Shadow Minister for Transportation Trevor Halford (Surrey-White Rock) called the Fraser Valley a “disaster zone for commuters” with “no end in sight, with transit disrupted in Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and beyond.

”People who rely on transit to get to school, to work, or to their medical appointments are at their wits end,” Halford stated. “Enough is enough, it’s time for the NDP to resolve this debacle.”

RELATED: Lunchtime rally in Chilliwack saw striking transit drivers ‘demand to be treated fairly’

B.C. United called out the government for failing to bring The Fraser Valley Transit Services Act, 2023 up for debate. Halford introduced the act before the end of the spring legislative session, claiming it would have put handyDART vehicles on the road as an emergency service.

“Last year the NDP failed to help people during the Sea to Sky transit strike, the longest strike in B.C.’s history, and now it’s failing people in the Fraser Valley,” stated Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman. “It’s unacceptable that this government does nothing while people are stranded. The NDP government needs to get to work to ensure the strike is resolved and get buses back on the road.”

HandyDART transportation was deemed essential service, according to a February order from the B.C. Labour Relations Board, for those who need to attend renal, cancer or multiple sclerosis appointments. The issue Banman is referring to is those medical services are only available in Abbotsford, and Chilliwack HandyDART buses could not leave Chilliwack.

RELATED: ‘How can they cripple the city this way?’ Chilliwack senior asks about Fraser Valley transit strike

Since March 20, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 561 have suspended all bus service from Abbotsford to Hope as part of an ongoing labour dispute between First Transit, the contractor for B.C. Transit, representing more than 200 bus drivers and transit workers. Drivers stopped collecting fares the month prior.

The main issues fuelling the strike are increased wages and benefits for drivers.

Those who do not qualify for HandyDART service but feel they should may contact First Transit at 604-855-0080 in Abbotsford and 604-795-5121 in Chilliwack.

– With Files from Jennifer Feinberg and Jenna Hauck