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Bus driver strike over, service resumes late next week

The bus driver strike is finally over, and services will soon return to normal.

Unifor Local 114 members in the Comox Valley and Campbell River voted to accept a deal that will bump their wages by 9.5% the first year, and 6% over the next two years. Wage disparity with drivers and workers in other similar-sized communities was the union’s main concern during the dispute.

Union local president Gord McGrath says they are “pleased to finally have a contract that speaks to members’ needs and creates a proper work-life-balance for them.”

The union says mechanics returned to work last week to start getting the buses roadworthy to return to service, passengers can expect them to be back on the road by the end of next week.

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BC Transit says that’s standard procedure.

“Before service resumes all buses must undergo a thorough inspection, cleaning and on road testing for return to service. It’s also important for transit operators to refresh their training to ensure a safe resumption of service,” the Crown corporation said in a statement.

The buses stopped running in mid-December, after months of service disruptions due to an ongoing driver shortage in both regions. PW Transit operates the service under contract with BC Transit and has been working to recruit more drivers, but the union says lower wages and fewer benefits compared to other communities made recruiting challenging.

PW Transit says the company is excited to be able to bring everyone back to work soon.

“We understand that this has been a difficult time for the riders who depend on transit, and we are working to get transit services up and running as soon as we can safely do so,” the company said in a statement.

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BC Transit also apologized for the disruption.

“Our organization understands the serious impact this job action has had on residents in Campbell River and the Comox Valley and heard customers’ frustrations. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused and are pleased the parties were able to reach this agreement,” BC Transit said in a statement.

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