GRT Bus Strike Leaves Commuters With Mobility Issues with Few Options

Colton Wiens
CTV News Kitchener Videographer
Published May 1, 2023

Grand River Transit (GRT) bus service came to a screeching halt Monday as drivers walked off the job.

Bus operators and other transit workers, represented by Unifor Local 4304, rejected a temporary agreement with the Region of Waterloo late Sunday, holding out for better wages and scheduling provisions.

The strike has left many riders scrambling, but the impact is being felt particularly acutely by those with mobility issues. Many are now stuck, with almost no options to get around.

“People are really concerned because they’ve got doctors appointments to go to. They need groceries and other supplies,” said Edward Faruzel, executive director of KW AccessAbility

Faruzel says there are less than 10 accessible cabs in the region, and many don’t want to pay for a taxi for a quick trip.

“Transportation should be an essential service. That would really solve the issue right there because it does effect the most vulnerable people,” Faruzel said.

“If you know somebody that has a disability, maybe check in with them because they might need some help, and they might not want to ask.”

STUDENT UNIONS SAY IMPACT WILL BE ‘TREMENDOUS’ IF STRIKE CONTINUES

Meanwhile, post-secondary students are not in class this week, but student unions are trying to get the message out in case the strike continues, posting on social media and emailing next semester’s students about the possibility.

“We’ve put in place more positions and people who are able to respond and able to offer these solutions to students to be able to help them,” said Rory Norris, president of the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association

The association says almost 23,000 University of Waterloo students used GRT services last semester.

Conestoga College’s students group says about 57 per cent of students in the Region of Waterloo use transit services – and they’re hoping the strike ends soon.

“The impact on our students will be tremendous. Summer is starting. A lot of them have jobs that they’re going to work to try to pay their own bills. Some of them are taking summer classes in hopes of graduating earlier. So this strike really does affect them,” said Nelson Chukwama, president of Conestoga Students Inc.

ION train service is running as it is maintained and operated by a separate company. But riders can only get so far. The train covers a thin portion of the core, while bus routes stretch all over the region.

“It’s tough, we’re basically back in lockdown again. People rely on transportation to go anywhere and do anything,” Faruzel said.

Original at https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/grt-bus-strike-leaves-commuters-with-mobility-issues-with-few-options-1.6379084