Students, single mothers would benefit from "yes" transit vote, coalition says

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      Aiesha Rahimyar has routinely been arriving late for her classes, due to a bus schedule that she says she can't rely on.

      "The frequency of the buses is every 20 or 30 minutes, " the 34-year-old and single mother of three from Afghanistan said at a news conference today (February 19).

      "Sometimes the traffic is more late, which makes me more late for school. Even if I miss 15 or 20 minutes, I miss a lot."

      She shared her experience as the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition announced that the YWCA is the 100th member to join the group advocating for a "yes" vote in the upcoming transit referendum.

      Janet Austin, the CEO of YWCA Metro Vancouver, said a yes vote will "greatly benefit the people served by the YWCA".

      "Every day, we see that lack of transportation can be an enormous barrier," she said.

      "Good public transit is critical for single mothers to access YWCA services and other community services, to manage daily tasks such as shopping, banking, health care, and taking their children to childcare, and to improve their education and employment opportunities."

      Some of the other people that Austin said would benefit from a yes vote include Amanda Rose Schellenberg, a YWCA volunteer and UBC social-work grad who works on the North Shore with youth with disabilities.

      Schellenberg said she relies heavily on transit, and takes three to five trips a week between the North Shore and her home in downtown Vancouver. She noted while she owns a car, she can't afford the costs of insuring and running the vehicle.

      "Taking transit isn't always a smooth journey," she said during the news conference.

      "For those of you who take transit, you probably know what I'm talking about: waiting for a bus that doesn't come, or worse yet, waiting for a bus that doesn't come and then when it finally does come, it's full," she added.

      "That's why I think it's very important that we increase the accessibility to transit, increase the frequency of buses coming, and just make it more accessible for people like me and for people like Aiesha to be able to do what we love to do, to go to school, to go to work, to stay connected."

      Bahareh Jokar, the vice-president of external affairs with the Alma Mater Society of UBC, cited students as another group that depends heavily on transit.

      She said now that the coalition has the support of 100 groups, it's a matter of "mobilizing the communities far and wide".

      "Myself and student leaders across the Metro Vancouver region are committed to mobilizing students and youth, and effectively getting them informed to vote," she said.

      Iain Black, who is serving as one of the four co-chairs of the Better Transit and Transportation coalition, along with Jokar, reiterated that the coalition is now focused on "mobilizing". He said the coalition now has an estimated reach of between 250,000 and 350,000 people among its member organizations.

      "It's about mobilizing our friends, our families, our neighbours, to make sure that we indeed do build the communities across Metro Vancouver that we all would like," he stated.

      Metro Vancouver residents will vote by mail in the transit referendum starting on March 16.

      The plebiscite will ask voters whether they support a 0.5 percent sales tax increase to support transportation and transit improvements, including increased bus and sea bus service, and a subway line to Arbutus Street.




      Feb 19, 2015 at 9:58pm

      I want better transit. I want to pay for better transit.

      A sales tax is wrong. It's regressive. It's hitting the people living pay check to pay check the hardest.

      You could probably fund the whole project from the amount of money developers are going to make increasing density along the routes.


      Feb 20, 2015 at 7:14am

      Why on earth would I vote for something that benefits the mistakes of single moms? They made a choice (bad one) to be a "baby moma" and raise a child without a father, and now are paying for that choice by being broke, and raising a fatherless baby (70% of people men in prison come from single mother homes). Oh yes I'm sure the fathers were all jerks etc, but they are the ones that chose to have sex and a baby with them ;). No one forced them.

      Now essentially they are saying "say yes" so you can help pay for other peoples mistakes.

      No thank you. Wow, as if I needed another reason to say no.

      I See Propaganda

      Feb 20, 2015 at 9:41am

      Yet another piece from the Straight using emotional appeals to convince people a "yes" vote is essential and will solve all the problems faced by transit users in the Vancouver area. The spin that all the new money pillaged via the sales tax increase will be spent on projects & services is believable only to the most naive among us. The mantra "this isn't about Translink: it is about transit" rings hollow when the money will be laundered thru Translink and they will determine how it is spent.

      The current incarnation of Translink is flawed and beyond cosmetic changes: it needs to be completely restructured. Leave the current frontline service and support personnel in place, they aren't the problem, but every position not directly contributing to providing or directly supporting services should be given notice of redundancy. The organization does not need myriad vice-presidents, managers, or executives sucking six-figure salaries out of the budget. Rationalize the bureaucracy, free up more money for services and put the compass card in operation before coming with your handout.

      This is the time to force Translink to make changes to their structure, not after they are flush with cash and have set a dangerous precedent. We have little recourse against the endemic waste, top-heavy management and misappropriation that goes on in the various taxpayer funded bureaucracies but here we have a chance to stop the pillaging. I am a transit user and if Translink is willing to cut services to keep paying ridiculous salaries, bonuses and fund failing projects they can mismanage themselves out of existence. I lived through transit strikes and can live thru cuts if they come if that is what it takes to force changes in the company.


      Feb 20, 2015 at 10:07am

      The Yes side wants to frame the debate over whether transit improvements are beneficial. This is misleading and deceptive. The debate should be, and the vote is, about whether the current tax system and accountability of the authorities over the spending of those taxes is fair. In 2008, the Campbell gov't rescinded the corporate capital tax on banks. That money alone would amply replace the proposed sales tax increase

      The Usual

      Feb 20, 2015 at 12:49pm

      Has the NO side considered the fact that their lefty alternatives for raising money are never going to happen? What will happen is that eventually the money will be needed and it'll come from cut backs to social programs.

      Not A Hater

      Feb 21, 2015 at 12:07am

      If NB's comments reflect the No side, our society really is in trouble. Arguing that single motherhood is caused by the moral failure and/or stupidity of women is despicable and misogynistic. He must be a member of the Canadian Taxpayers Fed eration.

      Betty - Boop

      Feb 23, 2015 at 11:10am

      Yes Maybe Everyone Would Benefit With Better Transit Service And New Bridges { But Not With Tolls } I Agree To That But ?

      Where Is All The Monies That Translink Has Received Over The Years That Was SUPPOSED To Go For These IMPROVEMENTS Like Transit ,Road And Bridge Improvements ETC ? You Tell Me ? Now The Mayors And Translink Want MORE Money By Raising The Sales Tax 1.5% Don't Forget That The Cost Of Living Goes Up Too For These Same Things. As If We Are Not Paying Enough Already.