Regional Council to invest strike savings in customer incentives for riders at end of labour dispute
NEWMARKET - York Regional Council today approved an incentive plan that returns YRT/Viva strike savings to riders at the end of the current strike, recognizing the personal and financial hardships commuters have endured during this dispute.
Approximately $5,169,000 accumulated by the Region from not paying contractors during the strike will cover the cost of one month of free service for all when YRT/Viva service resumes. Any additional savings from today forward will also be directed back to riders.
“Every dollar we have saved to date and until the end of the strike will be returned to riders to offset the personal losses of those deeply impacted by this strike,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. “Regional Council continues to challenge the unions and contractors, who have met only once in eight weeks, to resolve their dispute, return service and put to rest the hardship endured by all over the past two months.”
York Region anticipates up to a 10-per cent reduction in ridership following the strike and will offer this free service incentive to welcome back existing riders, invite new riders and ease relations between riders and bus operators going forward. The impact of a ridership loss of 10 per cent for an entire year compared to the 2012 budget target of 22.5 million riders would be approximately $6.1 million.
“Every day the YRT/Viva strike continues, we potentially lose another loyal rider,” said Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Wayne Emmerson, Chair of the Region’s Transportation Services Committee. “Customer incentives will be offered to all riders – those left entirely without service during the strike, as well as those who faced significant delays and inconvenience due to picketing on remaining service.”
Earlier this month, York Regional Council stated emphatically it will not intervene in the current dispute between the contractors and unions, will not request back-to-work provincial legislation or endorse binding arbitration. Committing to any of these could lead to extraordinary tax rate increases for all regional residents, higher transit fares for commuters, or both. York Region has finalized fair contracts with its private contractors and will not reopen them at a risk of up to $40 million in additional transit costs for taxpayers and riders.
Today marks day 53 of the YRT/Viva strike, affecting 60 per cent of transit service in York Region. Contracted operators Miller Transit, First Canada and York BRT Services (Veolia Transportation) met briefly with ATU Local 1587 and 113 over the past week, marking the first and only meaningful negotiations between the parties since the strike began Monday, October 24.
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Media Contact: Patrick Casey, Director, Corporate Communications, York Region
1-877-464-9675, ext. 1235 • Cell: 905-715-8211 • Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org