The Pitfalls of Transit Strikes
Labour strikes are nothing new in our City, and the threat of a strike is often enough to move the needle in labour disputes. The City, for its part, also has the option of locking out Transit workers if no deal can be agreed upon. Either way, unless the dispute is resolved, we’ll see a period of time where there could be no buses for Winnipeggers to ride. This might take place during certain hours of the day or all day long, depending on the nature of the strike/lockout.
Here’s what one Winnipeg worker, employed at a local painting company, had to say about a potential Transit strike. “I work at Pinnacle as a commercial painter and take a bus to work. A disruption in service will make it hard for me to get to the spots I have to paint around the city. I have to put food on the table for my husband and kids, so I’ll have to make it work no matter what, but taxis are expensive, and they can be unreliable - I really hope they don’t strike!”.
A lot of folks are in the same boat and you can understand why Transit workers would want to strike as everyone has the right to act in order to improve their working conditions. At the same time, a strike of that nature can deal a huge blow to the City’s economy as folks struggle to make it to work on time.
Planning Your Transportation
The first step to avoiding delays caused by a Transit strike is to plan your transportation accordingly. You can expect an uptick in the number of vehicles on the road, because Transit strikes mean that everyone who would take a bus will need to arrange for other transportation. Given that buses have the highest passenger capacity of any vehicles on our streets, that means more cars. You might see taxis, rideshares, and carpooling too but it all means more traffic.
Check to see if there are times that buses are running and if there are, try to take the bus at those times. Keep in mind that the buses will be particularly cramped, and it’s more important than ever to arrive at your stop early.
There may be no buses running at all and in that case, you too will have to arrange for other modes of transportation. You’ll want to start by looking for free or low-cost transportation. A Transit strike might be the perfect time to get your bike all fixed up - the City has added a number of cycling paths in recent years, and our active transportation infrastructure has been looking better than ever.
Carpooling is another great option and you can pitch in a bit for gas to make your carpooling friends happy. There are also car shares you can join but remember that sign-up will probably go up exponentially if there’s a Transit strike, so you should probably sign up preemptively if that sounds like a good idea.
You can also opt to use taxis or the new rideshare services in the City. There are quite a few of them out there right now and they can be less expensive than taxicabs. Again, here, it’s important to remember that usage is going to go up substantially during a strike, so it’s important to schedule appropriately.
Scheduling Your Route
Getting to work on time is going to be more challenging whether you take the bus or not, for all the reasons we listed above. That means you should leave quite early to get to work and try to avoid rush hour traffic. That might mean leaving at 6 in the morning, and it might mean leaving at 10 in the morning. Hopefully, you have flexible work hours. In any case, bring a good book with you.
The same logic can be used for leaving work. You might get off at 5, but it’s probably not a good idea to hit the road at that time as traffic is going to be horrible. Run some errands in the area around your work, go for a walk, do something to kill time, because you’re going to end up in traffic otherwise, and you can probably find something more productive to do than sit in your car on Portage and wait.
Your budget is going to change during a Transit strike and how much it changes depends largely on how you get around. Those with cars, well, you’re going to end up putting more in the gas tank if you idle in traffic, another good reason to follow the scheduling tips we listed above. You might see an uptick in gas prices, too, as demand goes up, but that’s pretty unpredictable as gas depends on a lot of factors, not just the local economy.
Those who do bus daily will see changes and you’ll have to re-work your budget to factor in new transportation. You might decide to put a little less on your Peggo card than you would otherwise, depending on how you budget and how long you expect the strike might go on for.
Budgeting can get a bit tricky when it comes to rideshare apps as some of them may change their prices depending on demand. In this way, taxi prices are more dependable because there’s a set rate for each taxi that’s displayed in the car, and while you’ll get some variance based on time, the variance will be consistent. When using either of these services, it’s a good idea to record the prices that you’re paying and average them out, so you know what to expect for costs.
You may be able to arrange for taxi services provided through your employer. Corporations and other businesses can often write off transportation costs, so you may be able to get lower-cost transportation. For those who are self-employed, it’s important to keep the receipts from your new transportation methods, as you may be able to write these off yourself.