Transit union says schedule is ‘a mess’ because OC Transpo has mandatory breaks

OC Transpo is hiring 80 new bus drivers to accommodate another mandatory 30-minute break as the union representing operators warns that the “entire schedule is a mess”.

Under new Canadian labor law, bus drivers must be given a 30-minute break for every five hours of work. Acting Transit Services CEO Troy Charter says schedules were adjusted on April 24 as part of the spring service changes to give operators the break.

“OC Transpo remains committed to working with ATU Local 279 and other OC Transpo employees to implement these complex schedule changes and employee action feedback wherever possible,” Charter said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

However, the chairman of the Amalgamated Transit Union says that things are “not going well for the union members” as OC Transpo adjusts the schedule.

“They had two years to prepare for this and they sat there until the last second, until the government said you have to comply,” ATU Local 279 president Clint Crabtree told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron on Thursday.

Crabtree says that OC Transpo who scheduled the 30-minute break has created “complete chaos” with the work and bus schedules.

“Buses don’t show up, people are left without buses, my members are left at stations where they have to unload buses and those buses don’t show up, so they have to go back to the depot to catch a bus,” Krabtree said. The whole schedule is a mess at the moment and people are very upset and frustrated.”

Crabtree estimates that OC Transpo will need to hire 200 additional operators to cover the 30-minute breaks, lapses, and retirements.

“They need more operators,” Crabtree says.

Charter says OC Transpo has launched a “robust recruitment campaign and more training sessions throughout the year”.

“To support these changes mandated by the Canada Labor Code and meet new service needs, the Council has approved funding for an additional 80 bus operator positions,” Charter said.

“In addition to these new roles, OC Transpo has proactively identified the need to hire an additional 200 new operators to fill future vacancies due to attrition, LRT expansion, retirements and employees moving to new roles in the organization.”

Crabtree is calling on OC Transpo to address scheduling issues before passenger traffic begins in the fall, especially as the transit service tries to boost passenger traffic.

“Service will be absolutely chaotic in the fall,” Crabtree said as college, college and high school students return in September. “The service will be an absolute nightmare for the public and my members in the fall.”

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