UBC's student union building to open 24 hours during transit strike

Nov 26 2019, 12:14 pm

There will be an on-campus sanctuary for University of British Columbia students during this week’s public transit shutdown of bus and SeaBus services.

The UBC Alma Mater Society (AMS) will be opening the AMS Student Nest student union building for 24 hours beginning at 11 pm Tuesday, November 26 and ending at 7 am Friday, November 29. The strike of Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) bus drivers and SeaBus is scheduled to begin Wednesday, November 27.

These special Nest hours are meant to provide students who normally rely on their commute to campus by public transit with a place to stay if they are unable to make it home, especially for those who live a considerable distance away.

ubc student nest student union building

Opening day in 2015 of the UBC Nest student union building. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

During overnight hours, all public access areas of the building will be open; designated student-only quiet areas will be accessible with a valid UBC student card, and other areas of the building will be permitted for sleeping as well, as long as students are in a safe location and are not causing an obstruction.

Sleeping bags and blankets are permitted; however, camping or tenting is prohibited. Items must be removed at the beginning of each day, otherwise they will be taken to lost and found. Security will be on duty to patrol the building and ensure safety.

Washrooms will be maintained by staff during the extended operating hours, but students looking to shower are encouraged to use the free facilities at the UBC Aquatic Centre next door during the pool’s operating hours.

Food and drinks will not be provided to students overnight; students are asked to plan their meals in advance or use the 24-hour restaurants at University Village, specifically McDonald’s and A&W.

ubc student nest student union building

Opening day in 2015 of the UBC Nest student union building. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

While carpooling to campus is the next best option, some students have indicated they are considering tenting on the Main Mall until buses run again.

The shutdown, of course, coincides with the busy final assignment and exam season. If the shutdown is prolonged into the following week, students will also have the option of staying overnight at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKB), which will remain open 24 hours beginning 6 am on Monday, December 2 and ending at 1 am on Friday, December 13. IKB offers these extended hours each exam season.

Like all other post-secondary institutions, the university has indicated it has no plans to alter class and exam schedules during the transit shutdown. Students, staff, and faculty who are able to make it to campus by other modes of transportation are being asked to allow for extra travel time. Students who believe they may experience hardship during the shutdown should consult with their instructor.

“The university remains open, regardless of the level of strike action. Not only do we need to continue classes, but we also need to maintain key services for the many students, faculty and staff who live and work on our Vancouver campus. Some of those services are required 24 hours/day every day of the week,” explains UBC.

“The academic calendar is also extremely complex, and for some of our programs the loss of four or more days could compromise professional accreditation. Cancelling classes or exams is not a solution, as doing so could cause longer-term issues for students who may be forced to make up the classes or even repeat the academic year.”

UBC bus exchange

The newly completed UBC bus exchange, September 2019. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

SkyTrain (Canada Line, Expo Line, and Millennium Line), West Coast Express, and HandyDART services will remain operational, but there may be more riders than usual.

The only bus route reaching campus that will remain operational is the No. 258 UBC/West Vancouver, as it is operated by the District of West Vancouver’s transit system — unaffected by the CMBC and Unifor labour dispute.

The shutdown is expected to have a severe impact on all aspects of life and business across the region.

Both sides are at an impasse over wages and working conditions; Unifor is seeking significant “fair” increases in salaries for its members, asserting the proposed raises by CMBC are insufficient.

But CMBC says its counter proposal is higher than other recent public sector settlements, addresses working conditions, and overall provides a balance between the interests of workers and transit riders. The TransLink subsidiary maintains meeting the union’s full level of demands could lead to hikes in fares and taxes, as well as cuts in planned service expansion amidst soaring ridership growth.