It is not because safety is not important that I say that this is a phony issue. It is a phony issue because there was no concern raised by the city before the strike began, or even at the start of the strike, or at least no concern that was made public, and Mayor Larry has shown no inclination to keep such concerns private.
The concern was only raised after OC Transpo, and Mayor Larry's, financial arguments about their scheduling position were discredited when the public learned that the current scheduling system was proposed by OC Transpo and that the workers took a pay reduction to pay for the additional costs of the system.
It was simply an attempt to justify the unjustifiable.
However there is a problem with OC Transpo not being under any safety regulations regarding bus drivers' working hours. This is because of the federal government's blatant disregard of their responsibility for inter-provincial (and international) municipal public transit and the lack of appropriate safety regulations. Requests were made, and granted, to have municipal transit services exempted from the federal regulations because the federal regulations were designed for long distance trucking and bus systems and were not suited to municipal systems. The fact that the federal government has jurisdiction over inter-provincial municipal transit systems and does not provide appropriate safety regulations is inexcusable.
The ideal solution would be to recognize that OC Transpo is essentially an Ontario transit service and have a federal-providential agreement giving the province regulatory powers so that OC Transpo would be under the same safety regulations as other Ontario public transit systems.
In the interim I would suggest an agreement (outside of the collective bargaining process) between OC Transpo and the Amalgamated Transit Union to have OC Transpo operate as if it was covered by the provincial regulations.
In the meantime the scheduling system could be referred to mediation, the financial issues could go to arbitration, and the buses could go back into service.