You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, should have been the slogan for the transit strike earlier this year.
Buses may never be lauded for being the sexiest way to get around town, but they proved to be invaluable when contract talks between the Amalgamated Transit Union and First Canada ground to a halt in November.
The strike was set off by what the union deemed to be an unfair pay system — those who drove shorter buses were paid a lower wage — and salaries that fell below provincial averages.
Once buses stopped rolling their absence was felt most acutely by seniors, school-aged children and university students.
The breakdown in service also showed how well-used the service was by families.
So, when the city brokered talks, the two parties came to an agreement and bus service resumed, passengers rejoiced.
Bus rides on the transit system were free until the end of November — a gesture B.C. Transit said is to thank customers for their patience during the labour dispute.
Buses also got smarter and safer this year.
The City of Kelowna signed a memorandum of understanding Dec. 12 to introduce a new Real Time information system.
“BC Transit’s commitment to implementing new technologies means a safer, more efficient experience,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
“Riders will be able to see in real time where the next bus is, when it should arrive – and know that when they get on board, they’ll be safe.”
Continued technological enhancements to buses include:
• Closed circuit TV (CCTV), to increase the safety of passengers and drivers.
• Real Time information about where buses are located to make service more convenient
• Automatic passenger counters enabling BC Transit to optimize service delivery based on precise and timely data.