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.