$100-Uber rides, half-hour walks to campus: Students share how Fraser Valley strike has affected their commute
The ongoing transit strike gripping the eastern Fraser Valley has forced commuters to find, and pay for, alternate forms of transportation to get to where they need to go — and students have been particularly impacted, having to turn to more expensive options like Uber and taxis.
The strike, which started Monday, has cut all bus services — except HandyDart service — across Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Agassiz, Harrison and Hope.
CUPE, the union representing the approximately 200 drivers on strike, says the key issues are a wage gap between Fraser Valley bus drivers and other drivers, working conditions and the need for a pension.
For Rofri Mpaka, his 40-minute Uber ride to the University of the Fraser Valley campus cost him over $100 — a trip that would normally cost $2.25 using public transportation.
WATCH | How much does it cost to commute around the Fraser Valley amid the strike?
Student Makenna Brar says her university classes seemed emptier than normal this week.
"A couple of my instructors have given a couple online options to submit a quote about a reading or something like that instead of having an in-person option because it is difficult for a lot of kids to get to class," she said.
Another student thinks universities should move their classes online like they did during the pandemic so students aren't shouldering the extra cost of getting to school.
"Why should the students have to do that when the schools can just go online again like they have?" asked Amytis Adham. "I feel like they should be able to accommodate."
For others, finding alternatives also costs extra time.
"It took me more than half an hour. With the bus, that almost takes like 10 minutes," said third-year international student Jhanavi Sharma, who chose to walk. "Uber surges the price a lot as well. It's really bad."
But despite the extra cost and time lost, Sharma says she understands the strikers.
"I really understand their problem as well," she said.
Labour Minister Harry Bains told CBC News he is closely following the dispute between CUPE and the employer First Transit, which operates the buses in the Fraser Valley, and has a mediator on standby.
Neither the employer nor the union have taken him up on the offer.