Fund transit as an essential service

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We, the undersigned, are calling on the federal and provincial government to provide emergency funding for essential transit service. 

On Friday, April 10th, the Offices of the BC Premier and the Prime Minister said that public transit will not receive emergency support from the provincial or federal governments.

Abundant Transit’s vision is that ”everyone has a transit choice”. During this pandemic, the truth is that many transit riders do not have a choice: they are risking their health to access essential work, food, and medicine.

Despite the pandemic, 75,000 people are still using transit every weekday in Metro Vancouver. Many of them are essential workers and others may not have another option to access medicine, food, or other essential supplies. 

Buses are no longer collecting fares — ordinarily more than half of Translink’s revenue — to protect public health. Larger, emptier buses are required on fewer routes running less often. Other sources of revenue such as parking fees and gasoline taxes, have dropped significantly. 

Unlike other Canadian transit agencies, Translink does not have a municipal government as a backstop. Because it is a public agency, it is not eligible for the wage support and other programs open to private businesses. 

Facing a mounting cash-flow crisis, the Translink Mayors’ Council are now discussing options for “deconstructing the transit system” in Metro Vancouver. This will harm some of the most vulnerable and essential workers in our society and make our post-pandemic recovery more difficult and unjust. 

As Jarrett Walker argues, “the goal of transit right now is neither competing for riders nor providing a social service for those in need. It is helping prevent the collapse of civilization.” 

We all depend on workers that depend on transit.

We, the undersigned, are calling on the federal and provincial government to provide emergency funding for essential transit service.