Possible Transit strike could make getting to school difficult for RRC students

By Gabrielle Piche

A bus drives down William Avenue on Aug. 29. Many students at Red River College’s Exchange District Campus bus to school. /GABRIELLE PICHÉ

Roughly 3,000 Red River College students will have to find new ways to get to school if city buses stop running.

A contract between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 (ATU) and the City of Winnipeg expired last January. Since then, the ATU has turned down four new proposals from the city, and the city has rejected the union’s counter proposals.

There’s been speculation in the media and from the city for months about a possible Transit strike or lockout. Winnipeg Transit buses would stop running in both scenarios.

Fabio Arad, 35, busses to his classes at the Exchange District Campus. Now, the business information technology student says he doesn’t know what he’ll do if city buses stop running.

“It’s not good for me because it’s so easy to take the bus to school,” Arad said.

Arad says he might walk to school, which would take him one hour.

On Friday, August 30, the College sent an email to its staff and students that warned readers of a potential Transit strike. The email offered alternate commuting options, including carpooling or biking to school, or parking near campus.

Some students are still unaware that talks of a Transit strike have been happening. RRC student Miranda Stark, 20, says she hadn’t heard anything about it until last week.

“That kind of scares me, because that’s my main transportation, the bus,” Stark said.

Without Winnipeg Transit, Stark says she would have to walk to the Exchange District Campus, which she guesses would take her one hour.

In the event of a strike or lockout, the College recommends staff and students use GoManitoba, a service that matches people with carpool partners in their area. The College said it would expand its drop off and pick up locations at the Notre Dame Campus in anticipation of more people getting rides to school.

The College also encourages people to bike. There are 34 bike lockers at the Notre Dame Campus and more bike hoops outside campus buildings. Students at the Exchange District Campus can park their bikes in one of the 35 working bike racks in the Bike Room in Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. Students can also use bike racks surrounding The Roblin Centre.

Workers began installing temporary bike racks around RRC campuses on Sept. 3. The College plans to construct at least four new bike racks for staff and students at the Exchange District Campus.

Staff and students with cars can pay for parking at the Notre Dame Campus. However, those attending the Exchange District Campus and the Language Training Centre must find parking nearby – the campuses don’t have their own designated parking lots.

Roughly 3,000 Red River College students use Transit to get to school. Around 37 per cent of full-time students take the bus. /GABRIELLE PICHÉ

The city sent its latest proposal to the ATU in August. It offered a wage increase of two per cent each year for the next four years to all ATU members.

ATU members voted against the city’s proposal on Aug. 16. Over 92 per cent voted “no.”

The city has cited a difference in wage increases, and adding five-minute breaks to bus schedules, as reasons the two parties haven’t agreed on a new contract.

The ATU wants to “improve the reliability of the Transit schedule” and add members of the public to its scheduling committee, according to a statement on its website. The statement also said the union wants better mental health supports for its members.

The ATU has been in a legal strike position since May 31.