It’s a shame that weeks have gone by and the bus unions and contractors are no closer to an agreement than when they started. With over 60% of bus service suspended, people who rely on these services have had to find other means of transportation to get to work, school or just get around.
But rather than just being a short-term nuisance for commuters, the bus strike has revealed that we can’t rely on public transportation and when it comes down to it, we can find other arrangements.
I’m not saying it’s easy making carpool plans, taking cabs or figuring out other ways to get where you need to go. Lots of people are struggling, including students who have no other way to get to school and workers who need to get to their office.
I’m extremely lucky that the bus I need to get to Finch has run – had it not, I would have struggled to find another way to get to the subway and to work.
But the fact of the matter is that this strike has shown that we can’t rely on public transit – so we shouldn’t. There has not been an overwhelming demand from commuters affected by the strike, encouraging a decision to be made. Even media coverage has been unusually quiet.
The short-term effects of the strike are the extra hassles but the long-term ones are much worse. It has told us not to rely on public transportation – so even if an agreement is reached, people may think twice before reverting to their pre-strike routines. This will have drastic effects on the already-horrible traffic situation in Toronto. At a time when our politicians should be encouraging us to use public transport to reduce traffic congestion, this strike has told citizens “don’t bother.”
People who have been able to make alternate arrangements have realized that it’s possible to exist without these services. Perhaps you never considered carpooling with your neighbour and now you do. You may find it’s even more convenient than waiting for the bus in the rain and snow.
I’m not trying to negate the demands of the unions – it is fair to demand higher wages when YRT bus drivers make much less than their GTA counterparts yet we pay much higher fares.
But the fact of the matter is that people are re-evaluating the way the public transportation system works – and this strike proves it needs to dramatically change for us to re-gain confidence in it.