Fredericton Transit pulls U-turn on decision to not run buses for Queen's funeral

·3 min read
Fredericton Transit has reversed a decision to take its buses off the road to mark the Queen's funeral next Monday in the wake of intense public backlash about the effect it would have on workers. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Fredericton Transit has reversed a decision to take its buses off the road to mark the Queen's funeral next Monday in the wake of intense public backlash about the effect it would have on workers. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

Fredericton's municipal transit provider has reversed a decision to not run its buses Monday in honour of the Queen's funeral, in the wake of scathing public backlash.

On Wednesday morning, Fredericton Transit announced on social media that its buses would not be running on Monday — a day being marked as a holiday for federal and provincial civil servants, but not for the private sector.

The post generated a wave of criticism from people on Facebook concerned about workers who would be forced to pay for a taxi to get to and from work.

"This is a terrible call," commented Janine Fortier. "People's entire work day is going towards paying for cabs to and from work. People are strained enough as it is."

WATCH | Transit users pleased to hear buses will operate Monday

Rebecca Catherine, another commenter, called the move inconsiderate to those who are struggling to make ends meet.

"I'm all for honouring the Queen, even giving people the day off when possible, but does the city seriously think her dying wishes would be for the working class to have to pay for taxis to get to work?" she said.

On Thursday morning, Fredericton Transit issued an update to say its decision had been reversed.

The City of Fredericton declined an interview on the decision, but in an email, spokesperson Wayne Knorr said officials "initially thought the closures would be more widespread."

Codiac Transpo in Moncton and Saint John Transit will be operating on Monday.

On Tuesday, Ottawa announced that Sept. 19 would be a holiday for federal employees to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth. The federal government left it up to provinces to expand who got the day off.

On the same day, Premier Blaine Higgs announced New Brunswick government offices and schools will be closed for the one-off occasion, while leaving it optional for private employers.

Users pleased with city's decision

Melissa Flowers, who takes the bus almost every day, said she was disappointed to hear of the first plan, particularly since Fredericton Transit already doesn't operate at all on Sundays.

She said she's glad the city ultimately reversed the decision.

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

"I think most of the, you know, bus users in the city are lower income or they're making a choice to try to be more environmentally friendly by using the bus," Flowers said.

"So you either have to pay more money for a cab, or for some people they just won't be able to go to work. Also, people need to get around to do things like groceries, visit family, transport their children, make doctor's appointments, so it's definitely better to have more bus service as much as possible."

Akash Das, an international student from India, also relies on the bus to get everywhere.

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

He said while he won't need the bus as classes are cancelled on Monday, he has friends who were worried about the initial announcement that buses wouldn't run that day

"I know friends and I have colleagues who are working in Home Depot or Walmart or Costco and they need the bus on that day," Das said.

"I think it was a really great initiative by the [municipal] government to rerun the bus because when we got to know that the bus is not running, everybody panicked and everybody has to book a cab or something that costs them like $30 to travel like three kilometres. That is not feasible."