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What you need to know about a potential TTC strike on Friday

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With a potential transit strike just hours away, Torontonians could soon be scrambling to find another way to get around the city. Here is what you need to know about the looming TTC strike.


 


When will workers strike if a deal is not reached?


Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, the union representing more than 11,000 TTC operators, collectors, maintenance workers, station staff, and other frontline TTC staff, said its members will walk off the job at 2 a.m. on Friday if a tentative agreement has not been reached with the city by midnight tonight.


TTC spokesperson Stuart Green previously stated that negotiations are expected to go “down to the wire.” If the union moves ahead with a strike, it will bring the city’s subway system, streetcars, and buses to a grinding halt. It should be noted that the union has said Wheel-Trans, the city’s paratransit service, will continue to operate even in the event of a work stoppage.


 


What are the alternative transportation options?


While TTC Chair Jamaal Myers has repeatedly stated that he is “confident” a deal will be reached before tonight’s deadline, he has also said that commuters should “absolutely have a plan b” for Friday morning. He said those who can work from home should do so and for those who cannot, GO Transit or carpooling may be good alternatives. 


 


In a statement to CP24, Metrolinx said GO Transit and UP Express will “continue to operate as normal” in the event of a TTC strike.


“While we have contingencies in places to address increased demand where possible, the TTC is a critical service that moves almost 2.5 million commuters every day, whereas GO Transit currently moves 200,000 commuters every day,” the provincial transit agency said in a statement.


“We do anticipate that our trains and buses will be busier than usual and ask customers to please plan extra travel time.”


 


A spokesperson for transit advocacy group TTCRiders suggested Wednesday that people should consider cycling, using Bike Share Toronto to get to school or the office.


According to Bike Share Toronto’s website, its network consists of over 9,000 bicycles and over 700 stations, covering off over 200 square kilometres in 21 of the 25 wards of the city.


 


Many commuters have said that they would rely on Ubers or taxis to get around if the TTC is not an option.


On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Uber said that while its drivers will be incentivized to increase the availability of trips, it cannot fill the “massive gap left by a transit strike.”


Uber said it will recommend riders try the “group ride” feature to increase carpool trips and said while surge pricing will still be in effect, they plan to put a “cap” on surge fares.


Beck Taxi confirmed to CP24 that it will be operating at “full capacity” in the event of a transit strike on Friday.


“We will try our best to maintain service levels but we won’t be able to guarantee wait times,” a spokesperson told CP24.


They noted that while the city has given the company “the ability to surcharge,” it has “committed to not using that practice.”


 


What will happen to city services and schools?


The City of Toronto said Wednesday that it has contingency plans in place to ensure that city services continue to operate amid the potential strike.


It noted that employees who are required to be on-site “are expected to plan accordingly and to report to work on time.”


Meanwhile, city-operated child care centres may be impacted during the potential strike. The city said some rooms or centres will be closed or operating under reduced hours “due to impacts on employees’ commutes.”


“If staff shortages are expected, we will make best efforts to notify you with as much notice as possible; however, due to the unpredictability of this situation, there may be circumstances where we are unable to advise you of a closure or schedule change as quickly as we would like, due to limited staffing on the day,” the city said in a letter to families.


The Toronto District School Board said while elementary schools will have a PA Day on Friday, it is a regular school day for secondary students.


“Travelling to and from school may be a challenge for some, so we would ask students and families to please plan accordingly and leave enough time to arrive on time,” the school board said in a message to families on Wednesday.


“Busing for secondary students will continue as usual on Friday but students and families should expect delays. All other students should explore alternate methods of transportation including carpooling or biking and/or walking in order to get to school.”


 


How will this impact other services?


In a news release issued Thursday, TTCRiders warned that a transit strike will have far-reaching consequences for all Torontonians, including those who don’t rely on the TTC.


“Other public services and businesses will be affected, because the TTC moves working class people to their jobs. For many Toronto residents, the TTC is our only option to access work, school, caregiving, groceries and appointments. For those with access to vehicles, gridlock will get worse,” the release read.


The group offered tips to Toronto residents on how to mitigate the impacts of a transit strike and advised people to make alternate arrangements for child care in the event that daycares are short-staffed and need to close.


Toronto Pearson International Airport said about 4,700 people use the TTC each day to get to and from the airport, including about 3,500 riders who use the 900 Airport Express route from Kipling Station each day.


“If a strike does happen, there are many alternative options available to get to the airport: Uber, Lyft, Taxi, UP Express, Go Transit, carpooling and prearranged airport taxi/limo services,” the airport said in a post on social media. “We encourage all those travelling to the airport to plan ahead and give themselves extra time to get to the airport.” 


 


When was the last TTC strike?


The last time TTC employees walked off the job was in April of 2008. The labour action lasted less than two days after the then Liberal government passed back-to-work legislation.


The province later designated the TTC as an essential service, a law that was in place for years until is was struck down by an Ontario court last year. That ruling opened the door to strike action for the first time in more than a decade after the union’s latest deal expired back in March.


 


Will the province step in?


The provincial government has been tight-lipped about whether it will proceed with back-to-work legislation if TTC workers walk off the job on Friday.


Paul Calandra, Ontario’s minister of housing and municipal affairs, sidestepped questions from reporters at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.


“Like all of you, I’m listening to what the chair of the TTC has been saying. He seems very optimistic that they’ll come to an agreement,” Calandra said. “So until I hear otherwise, I’m going to listen to his words and hope that they come to agreements.”


 


With files from CP24’s Bryann Aguilar and Josh Freeman 

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