Plans by SkyTrain workers to shut down the service Tuesday for three days as part of strike action has universities advising students attending final exams to prepare for alternate transportation and a busy commute.
After months of negotiations, TransLink and the B.C. Rapid Transit Company have been unable to reach an agreement with CUPE 7000, the union representing SkyTrain employees. In a statement posted by CUPE, a full shutdown will occur this week from Tuesday at 5 a.m. to Friday at 5 a.m., if no deal is reached.
Only the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines will be affected by the shutdown.
Sylvia Ceacero, executive director of the Simon Fraser Student Society, pointed out that many SFU students rely on the SkyTrain for their commute to campus.
“They come from 18 different communities,” she said. “We’re trying to figure out how to help them. We’ve been posting on our website and our social-media channels to encourage them to find safe ways of commuting. So perhaps arranging lifts with friends or colleagues.”
Multiple postsecondary schools, including Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, BCIT and Langara College have issued statements saying university operations and final exams will continue as scheduled, regardless of strike action.
Ms. Ceacero said students have raised concerns with the student union and SFU regarding the transit strike. She said if a student is stranded, faculty are willing to be flexible.
“The university has been engaging with professors … about finding alternatives for exams,” Ms. Ceacero said. “It could be a take-home exam, or it could be an electronic exam that is given within certain parameters.”
Matthew Ramsey, the director of university affairs for UBC media relations, said the university is currently suggesting students carpool, take the bus, or make arrangements to stay with friends closer to campus if a shutdown occurs.
In a news conference Monday, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said commuters should prepare for heavy traffic congestion regardless of their mode of transportation.
“There is no way to replace a system that reliably moves 150,000 people per day, each weekday, on the Expo and Millennium line,” Mr. Desmond said.
Bus transit will not be providing additional services, according to a statement issued by Michael McDaniel, president of Coast Mountain Bus Company.
“Customers should be aware that given our operational constraints and labour considerations, we are not able to increase bus service in response to the planned strike,” Mr. McDaniel said. “Bus service will be operating as it would on any regular weekday.”
Mr. Ramsey said the increased volume of cars might make it difficult to park on campus. He said on a typical day, the university fills all 9,000 of its parking spots.
Mr. Ramsey said students should familiarize themselves with academic guidelines and contact their instructors if they anticipate problems getting to their final exams.
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