Full shutdown of SkyTrain Expo and Millennium lines starting Tuesday

Dec 7 2019, 11:14 am

SkyTrain employees staffing Metro Vancouver’s Expo and Millennium lines will go on strike starting at 5 am Tuesday if they still haven’t reached a deal, resulting in a complete shutdown of service on those lines.

The announcement came Saturday from CUPE BC. The union said workers are withdrawing their services because “no significant progress” has been made in talks with their employer, TransLink subsidiary BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC).

Normal SkyTrain service will resume at 5 am on Friday.

“We understand that this is a massive action that will cause a great deal of inconvenience to our passengers, which is why we hope we can still reach an agreement before Tuesday morning,” CUPE Local 7000 president Tony Rebelo said in a statement.

On Friday, the union gave a 72-hour strike notice to their employer. It came after four full days of mediation and more than 40 days of direct bargaining. CUPE 7000 represents about 900 employees on both SkyTrain lines.

According to CUPE 7000, the last SkyTrain strike was a single-day shutdown more than 20 years ago.

This strike won’t affect service on the Canada Line. That line is privately operated by ProTransBC, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, under a contract that expires in 2040.

Buses, SeaBus, West Coast Express, and HandyDART will also continue to operate normally.

In a statement, BCRTC president Michel Ladrak says the public transit authority is “extremely disappointed” by the union’s decision.

“It is completely unacceptable the union has chosen to use the 150,000 people who use the Expo and Millennium Lines each weekday as leverage,” said Ladrak, adding that the public transit authority is working to secure additional bus service on existing routes. However, transit riders should consider alternate transportation options should a full strike proceed.

“BCRTC remains committed to getting a deal done. We will continue bargaining until the last moment to avoid this unnecessary and disruptive job action,” he continued.

The SkyTrain strike comes just days after a full shutdown of bus and SeaBus service was avoided when workers reached an agreement Thursday with Coast Mountain Bus Company (another TransLink subsidiary).