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Transit riders still ‘teed off’

In one week, some of the city’s buses will be back on the road. But after 55 days without transit, riders here said they aren’t willing to just forgive and forget.

In one week, some of the city’s buses will be back on the road.

But after 55 days without transit, riders here said they aren’t willing to just forgive and forget.

If the strike has taught Ryan Wake one thing, it’s that there’s alternatives to public transit.

The 24-year-old, who usually buys an Ecopass to get to work downtown, plans on giving it up. “As soon as the snow melts, I’m going to start cycling to work,” said Wake. “I might keep a sheet of bus tickets for emergencies.”

Wake’s not alone. “I know one guy who cancelled his pass as soon as the strike started,” he said.

The OC Transpo strike officially ended Thursday evening when Mayor Larry O’Brien, Amalgamated Transit Union international vice-president Randy Graham and ATU 279 president André Cornellier announced that they would send all outstanding issues to binding arbitration.

Despite a sigh of relief heard throughout the city, the buses won’t be coming back until Feb. 9, with full service not expected until April at the earliest.

Occasional transit rider Joshua Teasley plans on boycotting the bus. “As immature as it sounds, it’s kind of a way of teaching them a lesson,” said the 22-year-old, who will favour walking and cabs.

Centretown resident Marika Keliher, 88, said winter was a poor time for the union to strike, and that the city hasn’t done a very good job in protecting transit riders, who are “at the bottom of the pile.”

The strike has affected seniors, students and the marginally employed the most, said Centretown resident David Emmerson, 59.

“A lot of people are teed off. I think, initially, we’ll see fewer users. But people will come back. Transit is a practical thing. It’s too expensive to park downtown. It’s ridiculous to say that transit isn’t essential.”

 
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