Clueless Council and Possible HSR Strike

By Jason Leach
Published November 15, 2007

Stop the press: without a doubt, the biggest news story in the Hammer right now is a possible HSR strike, and potentially as soon as this weekend.

How ironic that the same week we open a half billion dollar highway, we might lose transit service.

The drivers have been working since last December without a contract.

Despite the modest gains made in public transit over the past couple years it is times like this where we find out how important the issue is at City Hall.

We know Council is completely clueless when it comes to transit and its effectiveness since they're all freaking out over having to walk seven minutes to their new digs. I haven't heard one of them say, "It doesn't bother me. I take the bus."

Yet in real cities all over the planet, that's exactly what you find among politicians, bankers, professionals and many others who use transit.

Hamilton continues to cater only to those residents who own a car.

The Christmas shopping season is coming quickly and downtown merchants don't deserve to lose their customer base because City Hall is too cheap to pay for proper transit.

Email your councillors and the Mayor's office. Public pressure might be the only hope we have left.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 15, 2007 at 11:51:11

Problem is, the city canned their HR director earlier this year and have a temporary fill-in who isn't providing the city negotiators with any direction. The negotiations are floundering because there's no leadership.

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By Student (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2007 at 12:04:49

I take the bus home everyday from school, and when they strike i'm going to be screwed. It takes at least 50 minutes to walk from my house to school and in the snow it will take longer. I know many people who take the bus not only to school but to work. This strike is going to srew over a lot of people, and why? Because the city is too cheap to give the transit workers a decent deal? It's ridiculous.

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By Carlos (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2007 at 20:28:36

The government should step in and not allow these bums to hold us hostage. People rely on the HSR to feed their families. The disabled and sick require frequent visits to seek medical intervention. Many are on fixed incomes and cannot afford taxis. The service should be given the same respect given to the Police, fire, ems and medical professions and classified as a mandatory and essential service. Citizens of Hamilton remember the last strike and how it affected us financially , mentally and physically. In the end these over paid thankless bums will continue to provide the same crappy and at times unsafe service. Many lack people skills and at times put us the paying customers at risk

It has become very evident that you folks are still bent on disrupting the lives of the very people who pay your salaries. Well be forewarn that we the paying ridership will not be held hostage this time round. In fact expect lawsuits for lost earning and God forbid someone becomes gravely ill or looses their life due to difficulties in getting to important medical appointments for treatments. You people will also loose money and will never recoup what you will loose. Once the lawsuits are file the HSR will be brought to it's knees and you will have no choice but to begin laying staff and drivers off. Rest assure that these events will happen. I personally know people jumping at the bit to suit your pants off if only to prove an ethical point and in the process perhaps set a legal precedent for other ontario municipalities.
The decision to stike is now court
Choose wisely

Carlos, a very disappointed and faithful rider.

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By Miriam (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2007 at 21:24:03

I think the government should seriously do something about this. It shouldnt be our fault to stay without a bus for as long as this strike goes on. I take the bus mostly everyday to go to work or to school, and where i work is in downtown and i live up in the mountain. If this strike goes on, im defenitely screwed big time because i have no ride.

I think the city should think about the people and everyone that is living here and start paying them some decent money. Without a bus everyone is screwed, it doesnt mean if the city or people have cars and drive then who cares. What about the rest of the people that take a bus everyday to go to work, or school..those that have assignments, tests they have to go to.

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By Whatever (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2007 at 22:06:37

Honestly..... The city does not care. It always the result of capitalism, those up there with the big bucks don't care about the real work force behind everything... i doubt the city gives a crap about the strike... why would they.. they have the big fat wallets ready to shower their family with money... Carlos... Count me in...I'm ready to sue... God forbid I get into an accident because I slip on ice or wipe out on the street because I have to walk 3 hours to work everyday.... Eh I'll probably end up frozen to death somewhere in a pile of deep snow....

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By Not happy with the city (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2007 at 22:49:06

I've already left phone messages with my councillor and with the mayor. Until and unless there is a strike this may be the best we can do, but if there is one it may be up to us to really make city council and others take notice.

I think I may have enough flexibility in my job to do some of it from home, and for the rest, well I can't afford to take a cab to teach (and my students can't afford to take one to get to class) so instead of going to work and class myself I'll have some free time to make sure it's known that this is affecting my life. I guess I'm not exactly going on strike, but in many ways going to work/school would be crossing a picket line and I'd rather not do that.

In fact, I'd much rather make sure one gets set up outside city hall, and Main and King streets too - if I can't get to work/school people who can afford to drive need to know this is a problem too. I'd suggest pickets at other major employers too, if you happen to live close to say Mac, Mohawk or Limeridge. The Spec got something right when they said this is going to affect the poor and students most; fortunately I think we can make sure the poor and students aren't the only ones affected AND support bus driver's seemingly reasonable demands.

Further, between the fare increase (the goal of which is reduce costs by REDUCING riders) and the hard times I've had trying to use the bus on a day to day basis (never on schedule, etc), and now this, I'm really considering leaving the city when I'm done school. A year ago I wanted to stay and really thought Hamilton could be made into a livable city, but then again I didn't think council was going to actively work to make living downtown impossible.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2007 at 00:05:47

we need to start pushing the idea of the entirety of the transit system as infrastructure, that is the buses, the drivers, the "soft" elements of the system, thus in the same category as roads and sewers. if we can do this we can eliminate this whole arguement that putting money towards transit is subsidizing transit users while building and maintaining roads is creating infrastructure and jobs. where do the ancaster and waterdown people think everyone travels to on the bus, tha park? transit creates and facilitates jobs just as roads do. it really boils down to a class issue. in a city with as low density as hamilton the wealthier people have no reason to take transit other than environmental. from king and james, the financial centre of the city one can drive pretty much anywhere in the city at any time in around twenty minutes. try getting anywhere in twenty minutes in toronto from bay street! we need more density to make transit in hamitlon work better and for that one of the things we need to invest in better, say it after me kids, TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE! tell your councillor that building and maintaining roads on which buses don't travel is subsidizing car drivers just as much as people without bus service paying transit taxes is subsidizing transit users. that's the way society should work, we all put a little of what we have in and take a little of what we need out.

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By Matt (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2007 at 15:38:17

I hope there is no strike. They really shouldn't have the right to strike because they are or should be deemed an essential service. Too many people would be affected from a strike including myself who can't drive. I have epilepsy and cannot drive because of my condition. There are many more who will be affected(elderly, students, working poor etc.) For many who don't make much money, this strike could be a matter of life and death. If they can't work then they don't get paid and in turn can't feed themselves or their families.This obviously can lead to sickness and ultimately death.

It's hard to feel sorry for someone who's making 20 to 25 dollars/hour when many of the riders make 8 or 9 dollars/hour. And as for the bathroom problem. I work for 8 hours and NEVER use the staff bathroom. I really don't know how long their shifts are, but if they're not more than 8 hours they shouldn't have a problem.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 17, 2007 at 10:30:33

it's strike!

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