HandyDART customers can start booking trips again beginning July 24, as the eastern Fraser Valley transit strike ends.
First Transit and CUPE 561 members both agreed to a mediation proposal by Vince Ready last week and are moving forward to getting services running again. The main priority will be getting HandyDART back to being fully operational, First Transit said over the weekend.
“The company is working to conclude this new collective agreement and has already started return-to-work efforts with maintenance staff so transit service can be restored as early as possible for our customers in the Fraser Valley,” a representative told Black Press. “The immediate priority for return to service is HandyDART, which operates on a reservation basis.”
They said HandyDART customers may begin contacting the service on Monday, July 24 to make arrangements for trips.
But other customers will have to wait at least a few more days, it seems.
“As for the broader transit service in the Fraser Valley, maintenance preparations are underway to ensure the buses are ready to return safely to the roads,” they added. “A date for full return to service will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.”
Bus services in Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope have been suspended since March 20 when the transit workers went on strike. Picket lines were being taken down at the end of the week.
According to the union, the two sides reached a six-year agreement that ends on March 31, 2026 and narrows the wage gap with other transit workers in the region.
The settlement also introduces a pension plan that takes effect next spring.
Vince Ready was appointed as a mediator of the dispute by the Ministry of Labour on June 8. He was initially given 10 days to secure a resolution but the deadline was extended.
Both the union and the employer have thanked the public for being patient through the negotiating process.