Metro Vancouver bus shutdown will isolate seniors, centre fears

UPDATE — Nov. 27, 2019: A tentative deal has been reached between the union representing thousands of transit workers and Coast Mountain Bus Company, narrowly averting a complete suspension of bus service in Metro Vancouver. Unifor said strike action is over and bus service is returning to normal levels.

EARLIER STORY: 

Staff, volunteers and members of a Vancouver seniors centre are worried about the impact a potential bus service shutdown Wednesday would have on their daily activities and services.

South Granville Seniors Centre director Clemencia Gomez said a full service shutdown planned for three days starting Wednesday is going to be challenging, as most of the people who come to the centre have given up their cars and are completely dependent on transit.

The centre, which has been in operation for 40 years, provides recreation, education and food programs — as well as a chance to connect with others — for more than 450 members and more than 1,500 people in the community. 

"Many of them look forward to the activities just to connect, just to talk to their peers and be here in the community," said Gomez.

"We have 110 permanent volunteers — and when I say permanent it's people who work more than 40 hours a week with us — and we can not survive with out them."

CBC News

Evelyn Legault, 76, leads a fitness group at the centre. She says the place is important for its members.

"We have a nice social going here too, as well, but the main thing is the exercise," said Legault.

Veena Mathur, 82, said she relies on the bus to get around, but says she is supporting the drivers in their job action as they seek an increase in wages.

"They're very caring, they're very polite to seniors, so I don't want to see them get the short end of the stick."

 

Bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance staff working for the Coast Mountain Bus Company have not been able to come to an agreement on wages and working conditions with their employer.

Talks between the two sides are expected to continue Tuesday, with the bus workers' union prepared to negotiate until midnight.