Quebec City bus drivers poised to strike Monday

With little progress at the negotiating table, municipal bus drivers in Quebec City are preparing to walk off the job Monday morning.

Quebec's essential services council approved an agreement Wednesday between the public transit authority, the RTC, and its drivers, setting out which buses will continue to run at key times if the drivers go on strike.

"We are still in negotiations. There has been no change. There has been no progress either," said union president Ghislain Dolbec.

Some routes to run during strike

Commuter bus routes — the Métrobus, leBus and eXpress, with the exception of bus lines numbered in the 100s — will continue to function on their normal schedules between 6:15 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. and between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.

All bus routes serving school children will also run in those time periods, as well as during the lunch hour, from 11:30 a.m. to 13:45 p.m.

A smaller selection of bus routes will also serve transit users on weekends, from 6:15 to 9:15 a.m, and from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

After the designated time window for essential service has ended, bus drivers will stay on the route until the last passenger has disembarked.

Adapted transit not affected

A strike will not affect adapted public transit for people with disabilities.

Bus drivers will not use the Nomade GPS service that allows riders to follow the location of buses in real time. However, they will verbally inform visually impaired passengers of their location on the route.

Buses that will run

Here are the bus routes that will operate 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday:

- Métrobus 800, 801, 802, 803, 804 and 807.
 

- LeBus 1, 3, 4, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15,16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37,  39, 44, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 61, 64, 65, 70, 72, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 88, 92, 93, 94, 95.

Note: LeBus route in the 100s will not run.

- All eXpress bus routes in the 200, 300 and 500 series 214, 215, 230, 236, 238, 239, 250, 251, 254, 255, 272, 273, 274, 277, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 289, 290, 294, 295, 315, 330, 331, 332, 336, 337, 338, 350, 354, 355, 358, 372, 374, 377, 380, 381, 382, 384, 391, 530, 536, 537, 538, 550, 55, 558, 572, 574, 577, 580, 581, 582, 584.

Here are the bus routes that will run from 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m on weekends and holidays:

- LeBus 1, 3, 4, 11, 13, 16, 21, 25, 31, 32, 36, 37, 64, 74, 75, 84.
 

- Métrobus 800, 801, 802, 804, 807.

RTC head optimistic deal will be reached

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said the most popular and important routes will be covered.

"We do not want a strike," Labeaume said. "We hope to reach a deal first."

"But I will tell you, when it comes to the negotiations for the essential services coverage, we are satisfied."

The city's 950 bus drivers have been without a contract since June 30, 2016.

Salaries, pensions and the organization of driver workloads are the main sticking points.

RTC president Rémy Normand believes an agreement could be struck before Monday's deadline.

"I think everyone wants a solution, despite the kind of talk we hear, and we will work in that direction, starting now," Normand said.