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Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction hits snag

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT has hit a snag that could turn into something much larger. The TTC was expecting to shut down Eglinton station to work on the tunnel that will pass under it, but that was scrapped since the TTC couldn’t get enough drivers for the replacement shuttle buses because the union has banned all overtime beyond the normal 48 hour work week.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said the transit commission plans to hire more than 100 operators to cover the shortage but they won’t be in place until July.

There are several more closures planned for Eglinton for the Metrolinx crosstown construction before then. Ross says the TTC is working on an alternative but wouldn’t say what that would be.

“We have been working with Metrolinx to try to find a solution to a lack of shuttle buses, that plan continues to be developed,” said Ross. “There is another closure scheduled for next weekend, that is still on but that could change, if that plan comes together then that could be a go, if it doesn’t then we’d have to look at another solution later for making up that time.”

There could be another 22 such weekend closures this year but Ross wouldn’t say how many of those could be negatively affected. The union implemented the overtime ban to press the commission on filling what, it says, is the ten per cent vacancy rate — approximately one thousand positions are unfilled.

ATU Local 113 representative John Dinino says the 100 hires by July is welcome but isn’t enough for them to change the overtime ban.

“What the TTC needs to do is sit down, look at their resources, staff us, fund us correctly… and ensure that they give us provisions within our collective agreement that guarantee us no contract will be performed out of our bargaining unit” said Dinino.

There has been talk of the TTC using Metrolinx buses and drivers to shuttle people during station closures. Dinino says if that were to happen the union would likely file a grievance.