Two Months' Free Travel on York Region Transit

Right after I published my last blog post speculating about it, the Region finally revealed their plan for providing free transit service now that the strike is over. They've also provided a chart showing when service will be restored on each line. Here's the summary:

  • Viva Blue and Purple will be running again this Saturday, with Viva Pink and the Blue A variant following on Monday.
  • Routes 98 and 55 in the north division will start on Saturday. School specials and several other routes will start Monday.
  • All of the regular routes in the southeast division will be operating Saturday as well. Express routes, GO shuttles and school-special routes will resume on Monday.

What about the remaining routes, you ask? Those won't be running again until the end of the month—February 26th or 27th. This includes eight lines in the north division and, somewhat bafflingly, Viva Green and Orange as well.

As Deborah Smerek pointed out on Twitter, this means some transit users—particularly those in the northern part of the region, but perhaps some York University students as well—still have another month to wait before the strike will be over for them, after which they'll have only one month of free travel to enjoy. So far, the Region hasn't announced any plans to extend the free period for those routes to compensate. This means that as things stand, riders in the southwest division—where drivers were never on strike—will actually benefit more than some riders in the north division, who will have been without bus service for more than four months by the time it resumes.

There is a little more good news to share, however. The Region has confirmed that free travel is available across the entire YRT system:

Remember, free rides also apply to Dial-a-Ride, Mobility Plus, TTC routes in York Region, GO Route 69 - Sutton GO Bus and YRT routes that were still operating in the Southwest Division throughout the strike.

I would assume you'll still need to deposit a TTC token or show a Metropass to travel south of Steeles on a TTC bus.

Also, the the service-resumption page has been updated with details (at the bottom) of how to return your February bus pass for a refund. Returned passes will be accepted until March 31st, a far more sensible window than we were given the last time around.

...But Behave Yourselves

According to YRT general manager Rick Leary, speaking to the Toronto Star, police officers and security guards will be visible throughout the transit system over the next while as service is restored. I have to assume this is meant to deter passengers who might be thinking of lashing out at the drivers they hold responsible for the tremendous inconvenience and personal cost of the last few months.

There's no doubt drivers are worried about what might happen. Just yesterday we saw this comment on a news article from the wishfully named FacingForward:

Sometimes, when you are a part of a union, you are forced into striking when you personally don't want to. I really hope that when service resumes, passengers don't make any rude or offensive comments to any drivers. The people on the front lines always take the brunt of the heat, but if passengers really want to speak out about this, they should contact the corporate office about it.

Yes, because it absolutely was the corporate office yelling and screaming at passengers when it wasn't simply denying them service on functioning routes altogether. Blame where it belongs, people.

Resident commenter YRT Driver was thinking of his hide all the way back in December:

In addition, when the buses are finally back on the road, I hope that the public does NOT backlash against drivers as some people have mentioned because you may be back lashing on that innocent driver who was always on the side of the rider and was completely against the way the union is handling this.

Ah yes, the innocent driver, the poor soul who hated the union's actions and was forced to watch helplessly—helplessly!—as it tore apart the goodwill he had built up over time with his passengers, and who now has no choice but to reluctantly accept the signing bonus, higher wage and increased benefits with which the harrowing three-month affair has burdened him. This man deserves not your hatred, but your pity—if only you could see how it breaks his heart every time he uses an ATM.

Unwarranted appeals to the public's sympathy notwithstanding, bear in mind that attacking a bus driver is far more likely to land you with a criminal record than it is to change anything about the state of labour relations here in York Region. So take Forrest's words to heart:

The driver on the bus says Take your seat, not a peep, the deal was cheap

Older: The York Region Transit Strike is Over
Newer: Four Good Things from the York Region Transit Strike