The Librarians and Archivists walking the picket lines at The University of Western Ontario might not be a large group, but motorists and commuters driving around campus have felt their presence.
Only the second day into the librarians and archivists strike, the London Transit Commission (LTC) decided to reroute buses in an attempt to reduce congestion around University Hospital.
As part of its standard operating procedures, LTC does not cross legal picket lines, as “to do so would significantly impact the ability to maintain a scheduled service,” says Larry Ducharme, LTC general manager. “Not crossing legal picket lines does not have anything to do with LTC labour relations and/or LTC being for or against a strike; it is about finding ways to mitigate the impact on the overall LTC customer service.”
If a bus is held-up at the picket line by 10 minutes, this not only impacts the route schedule, it also impacts transfer connections, he notes. In addition, there is a concern regarding safety and exposure for passengers, drivers and equipment associated with crossing picket lines, he adds.
The bridge located on Perth Drive at Windermere Road is currently under construction and reduced to one lane. This has exacerbated the problem of allowing buses to loop around at University Hospital and continue on their route along Windermere Road. Elgin Austen, director of Campus Community Police Service, says the construction will likely continue through October.
“The original plan for LTC … did a circuit around the hospital loop and back out and it created a tremendous amount of problems,” Austen says. “Mainly the buses and the bridge created a gridlock.”
As a result of the bus route changes implemented during the strike, there are 20 fewer buses on campus per hour, Austen notes. London Health Sciences Centre has suggested its University Hospital employees use alternate routes when leaving the hospital to alleviate further congestion. Campus police have been stationed at the exits to facilitate traffic flow.
“Recognizing we do have picketers out there, be cautious when you are turning onto campus so as not to interfere with anyone’s personal safety,” he says.
With Fanshawe College’s Support Staff Union also on strike, LTC will not cross the picket lines. Ducharme says the procedures were the same at both institutions, but the traffic issues at Western differ as a result of the ridership levels, the size of the institution and the road design and destination locations.
“Strike and picket lines, like significant detours, negatively impact delivery of customer service and we try to avoid such inconvenience with reasonable alternate routing,” Ducharme says.
Based on feedback from LTC drivers and passengers, Ducharme says the strike is affecting commuter traffic across the city. “Schedule adherence is compromised, travel time is longer; there are increased operating risks/challenges given the concentration of congestion; and transfer connections are negatively impacted,” he says, noting LTC operates 37 routes carrying approximately 80,000 passengers per day.
Updated transit route information is available on the Western Labour Update website, uwo.ca/labourupdate, or viewed on LTC’s website, ltconline.ca. With possible delays expected, customers are encouraged to plan travel time accordingly.
With regards to suppliers making their way onto campus, it seems to be business as usual for Western. Campus spots such as the Book Store and Computer Store, along with Great Hall Catering and other Hospitality Services areas, are seeing no delays in receiving shipments. Food and beverage hotspots such as The Spoke, The Wave and the Grad Club have seen no interruption in service either.
Updated transit route information is available on the Western Labour Update website at uwo.ca/labourupdate or can be viewed on LTC’s website at www.ltconline.ca. With possible delays expected, customers are encouraged to plan travel time accordingly.