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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Union sounds alarm over Halifax Transit ferry operator shortage – Halifax

Halifax Transit staffing shortages are still being felt as service interruptions continue across the city.

The union that represents ferry operators is sounding the alarm, saying workers are burnt out and cannot keep up with demand.

“(Staff) are not getting as much time with their family because they’re working a lot of overtime,” said Ray MacKenzie, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 508.

“That happened on the weekend as well. One of the deckhands called off sick and nobody was there to fill in. People worked overtime all week.”

Ferry service was cancelled on one route during rush hour Tuesday morning. That’s in addition to one cancellation on the weekend due to staffing shortages.

“That’s not good. We need more staff,” said Coun. Tony Mancini, who represents District 6 in Dartmouth.

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“We’ve been hiring. We added it to the budget this year. And hopefully, we can reduce those types of pain when it comes to our ferry service.”

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There’s a sense of urgency to fix the problem because a long-awaited project to add a Bedford ferry connection to the transit system is expected to be completed in the 2027-28 fiscal year.

Some daily ferry commuters told Global News they want to see a more reliable transit system.

“I don’t have a car or anything like that, so if there are delays, it can be really rough to get around,” transit rider Brooke Jollimore said.

Click to play video: 'Halifax bus driver says staffing ‘stretched to the max’ as more routes get added'

Halifax bus driver says staffing ‘stretched to the max’ as more routes get added

Fellow ferry passenger Paddy Williams believes there should more incentive for potential ferry operators.

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“If someone calls in sick it shouldn’t delay a whole ferry service,” Williams said.

“Pay people what they’re worth. If people aren’t applying to jobs it’s probably because it’s not paying well.”

The municipality says it continues to actively recruit operators in order to reduce service interruptions. However, the union thinks even more can be done to retain the drivers and operators already on the job.

“We want safety. We want better quality of work,” MacKenzie said.

“Ferry is going on a crew where they don’t have a leeway if someone goes sick.”

— with a file from Global News’ Zack Power and Rebecca Lau 

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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