Commentary

I survived a bus strike. You can too.

When forced to problem solve, the resolutions are usually better than you might expect

The bus strike could be a good thing in disguise (Photo: Adam Scotti)

I got my driver's licence when I was 27. Which means I have relied on public transit in three of the four provinces I have lived in.

I actually like to consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of public transit. I've experienced it all - from accidents to on-board fires.

I've even lived through a transit strike in Hamilton, Ont., that lasted nearly three months during the winter of 1998-99.

And I survived it. Hamilton survived it.

Hamilton narrowly averted another strike

The last couple of weeks were tense in Hamilton as the city prepared for another bus strike.  However, city council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 reached a tentative deal on Jan. 30, 2012.

York Region Transit Strike over

The York Region Transit Strike lasted 97 days. Service will resume on Feb. 4, 2012. It has been reported that 40,000-plus riders were affected by the strike.

When the strike happened in Hamilton, everyone was in the same panicked position we are now feeling in Halifax. Everyone was worried about how to get to work on time, or get to class on time, or get to their various appointments across the city.

But everyone figured out how to get to where they were going. People were forced to be creative in their problem solving. And what came from that creative problem solving was what I would consider to be a stronger sense of community.

People arranged carpools and inevitably made new friends with people they would have never met before. People within the same neighbourhood were forced to meet and often formed friendships. I even know of a woman who met a man in a random carpool arrangement and married him three years later.

Carpools became a fun way to get to work. So fun that when the strike ended many people never returned to the bus - they had learned to rely on their carpool friends.

People started walking more often. And they started to feel better about themselves. That little bit of extra exercise and fresh air was all they needed to beat the winter blues.

These individuals, who took to walking, would be forced explore the city, discovering the little nooks and crannies of the city that they probably wouldn't have found if they were still getting to work on a designated bus route. A number of people found a new appreciation for the history and character of what can be a rather dull and dirty looking city.

The Hamilton transit strike had more benefits than inconveniences. And when it ended, it took the Hamilton Street Railway many months to rebuild their ridership since so many people had become accustomed to a new way of getting places. They didn't need, or want, public transit as much.

I know that the Halifax Regional Municipality is split between Halifax and Dartmouth, making transit an essential part of this community. But we, as human beings, are resilient. We adapt and adjust.

We will creatively solve this problem too.

Walking, carpooling or whatever solution we come up with might even be better and more enjoyable than our previous transportation routines.

When the strike ends, we might not even want to get back on the bus.

Comments on this story are now closed

car pools w/ people you (at least kind of) know > smelly buses with crying babies

Posted by ryan | Feb 3, 2022

Abandoning public transit in favour of cars? This is a positive development? As a former long-time carpooler, I say car pools are NOT a "fun way to get to work". I appreciate Jane's cheery attitude, but I really want my Number 80 back! Getting back into our cars is a step backward. I've done a bit of traveling, and I've come to think that you can measure the maturity of a city by how well public transit is used by its residents. Halifax is still in diapers. Silly attitudes about riding the bus aren't very helpful.

Posted by Kevin MacDonell | Feb 3, 2022

The York Region Transit Strike was pretty brutal, I hope you guys don't end up with a lengthy strike like we did. On the plus side, we get to have free rides.

Posted by YRT commuter | Feb 6, 2022