Canada Line's union workers contract set to expire at the end of the month

Dec 9 2019, 3:10 pm

While the Canada Line is unaffected by this week’s planned shutdown of services on the Expo Line and Millennium Line, their workers are now just weeks ahead from seeing their contract expire.

The Canada Line — branded by the public transit authority as part of the region’s SkyTrain network — is separate from TransLink’s BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), as it is privately operated and maintained by ProTrans BC, a subsidiary of Quebec-based engineering giant SNC Lavalin.

BCRTC’s 900 workers on the Expo and Millennium lines are under CUPE 7000, while Canada Line’s 150 workers are under the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).

The agreement between ProTrans BC and BCGEU is effective from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2019.

A spokesperson for BCGEU confirmed to Daily Hive negotiations with the Canada Line’s operator have not begun.

In January 2015, Canada Line workers voted 99% in favour of a strike, after being without a contract since December 2013, but a strike was averted after both sides were able to come to an agreement shortly after the vote.

The Canada Line sees an average of about 150,000 boardings per weekday, accounting for 10% of the region’s overall transit ridership and about a third of overall SkyTrain ridership.

SNC Lavalin also designed, constructed, and partially financed the Canada Line. Its operating and maintenance contract with TransLink for this SkyTrain line ends in 2040.

According to documents, TransLink’s payments to SNC Lavalin is largely based on performance. The criteria is as follows: 70% is based on availability (getting passengers from A to B on time, peak vehicle availability, off-peak vehicle availability, and station availability), 20% is based on service quality (providing a pleasant journey, vehicle quality, and station quality), and 10% is based on ridership volume (year-over-year ridership growth).

For the fourth quarter of 2016, the Canada Line earned a 100% rating for availability, 99.7% for quality, and over 100% for ridership volume.

If labour action on the Expo and Millennium lines proceeds as planned this week, significantly higher passenger volumes on the Canada Line can be expected from a surge in bus riders originating from Surrey and connecting at Bridgeport Station.