More STM buses waiting for maintenance means more bus drivers not on the road: union

The war of words continues between the STM and its maintenance workers union as new allegations surface reported by the Montreal Gazette that bus drivers are being "paid to do nothing" because there aren't enough road-worthy buses for them to drive.

The maintenance union said staffing shortages and new rules for refuelling mean more buses that are parked in the garage, piling on the existing backlog of needed repairs and maintenance.

The union maintains the new procedures for gassing up buses - only when needed instead of daily - mean more buses on the road are running out of gas and more staff are needed for towing and refuelling.

"There's about 200 buses (...) less on the road right now than is supposed to," said union spokesman Martin Paquette in an interview with CJAD 800.

"There's a lot of bus drivers waiting for buses to go to work."

Neither the bus driver's union nor the STM would comment about the situation but Paquette said they've seen it for themselves.

"They are still paid because they have a contract to work and they have to wait that a bus is available for them. It's not their fault they're waiting. They're supposed to have a bus but they don't have one," said Paquette.

The STM could not confirm the reports about idling bus drivers but said in a statement to CJAD 800 that difficult winter conditions mean more bus breakdowns and delays. It's also blaming pressure tactics by the maintenance union, something that Paquette denies.

The two sides have been in contract talks since 2017.