STO commuters feeling 'stressed' on day 1 of bus strike

Some commuters in Gatineau said they were feeling "stressed" on the first day of what's expected to be a weekly, rotating strike by Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) drivers and maintenance workers.

People who rely on the transit service were forced to find other ways to get to work and school Thursday morning after workers walked off the job.

The transit agency and the union have been at odds over protracted contract negotiations, with wages, sick leave and scheduling the main sticking points. 

'Stressed out, but I'll manage'

Some transit users were caught off guard on Thursday morning, showing up at their stops to wait for buses that didn't come.

"[I'm] a bit stressed out, but I'll manage. What can I say? I've got no other choice," said University of Ottawa student Mihnea Vuscan, 20.

After finding out busses weren't running, Vuscan decided to walk to class all the way from Hull because he didn't want to spend money on a taxi. 

Other commuters were able to arrange rides with friends.

Reen Alzkaini, who arrived from Syria one year ago, was trying to make her way to French class Thursday morning.

"We need STO, so that's terrible for me because I [was] wondering what should I do, who should I phone for help?" said Alzkaini, before a friend arrived to drive her to class.

The strike is also causing headaches for parents trying to get their kids to daycare before making their own way to work.

Roxanne Renaud Coderre works on Promenade du Portage and said many of her colleagues were planning to work from home on Thursday, while others were going to carpool.

Carpooling not an option for some

But carpooling isn't an option for her and her husband because their child's daycare doesn't open until after their colleagues start their workday.

"It's actually really stressful right now," said Renaud Coderre.

They now plan to drive to work, and pay for parking.

"At first I was kinda like, 'OK, yeah, you know they need to do pressure and stuff.' But now that it's starting to affect people, like it sucks. It needs to be rectified," she said.

"I don't know what we're going to do. Maybe Uber? But that might be even more expensive, so I don't know," said Renaud Coderre.