The 555 route from Carvolth to Lougheed was one of the bus routes impacted starting on Friday. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Transit job action begins to impact Langley

The 555 route from Carvolth to the Lougheed SkyTrain station was affected

Langley began to feel the impact of the TransLink transit strike directly on Friday as the 555 express bus route suffered reduced frequency.

The 555 is the bus that runs from the Carvolth Exchange park and ride in Willoughby down Highway One to the Lougheed SkyTrain station.

On Friday, TransLink announced there would be a reduction in frequency on the 555, one of 11 routes that include 41 bus runs across Metro Vancouver.

So far, the majority of those runs have been in Vancouver or its immediate neighbours, not in the outer suburbs like Langley.

But the 555 is one of the most-used bus routes outside of Vancouver, and has been increased in frequency several times in recent years, including in 2017.

In 2018, the 555 had more than one million boardings.

This year, TransLink announced that the route would be getting some of the new double-decker buses arriving in Metro Vancouver, to start on the Carvolth-to-Lougheed route in early 2020.

TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews told Black Press Media that the transportation service is prioritizing bus routes that run less frequently when a bus breaks down. This means that if a bus is taken out of service along a less-frequent route, TransLink will pull a bus from a more frequent running route so riders aren’t stuck waiting an hour for the next bus.

TransLink is recommending riders to subscribe to its alerts ahead of further disruptions.

TransLink’s unionized bus drivers, SeaBus workers, and maintenance workers began job action on Nov. 1.

Unifor, which represents the drivers, has avoided calling for a full strike. So far, drivers have refused to wear uniforms, and maintenance workers are refusing to work overtime.

That means that as buses break down, they aren’t being replaced as fast.

Coast Mountain Bus Company president Michael McDaniel said in a statement that the union has refused to return to the bargaining table and have refused using a third-party mediator to continue contract negotiations.

The union wants to see a greater increase in wages than what has been offered by the company, as well as better recovery time in between trips for its drivers.

Premier John Horgan warned both sides Thursday that a long dispute like the last strike in 2001 won’t be tolerated.

“I’ll remind you that the last time the Official Opposition was in government there was a four-month transit strike in Vancouver and I can assure you that won’t happen on my watch,” Horgan said while attending an event in Courtenay.

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