“No” vote in transit referendum would hurt HandyDART, advocate says

But No TransLink Tax campaign argues “yes” win won’t help riders with disabilities

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      Many able-bodied transit riders are “disgusted” with TransLink, but they should stop and think about how they’ll get around when they’re older or if they suffer an injury, according to Beth McKellar.

      She’s a coordinator of the HandyDART Riders’ Alliance, which is campaigning for a “yes” vote as the Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite heads into the homestretch. McKellar told the Georgia Straight she’s worried a “no” win will result in cuts to HandyDART, TransLink’s door-to-door service for people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities.

      “Folks that have knee surgery, hip surgery, if they don’t have a family member or aren’t rich enough to have a caretaker look after them, HandyDART’s there for them,” McKellar said by phone from Burnaby. “It’ll be sad to see us get pushed further down the ladder.”

      McKellar, who has a spinal-cord injury and uses a service dog, has been a HandyDART client for 15 years. According to the 56-year-old, the number of HandyDART service hours has been frozen since 2009, resulting in some users waiting for rides that never come.

      The plan of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation calls for a 30-percent increase in HandyDART service—or 190,000 additional hours—over 10 years. This would have a capital cost of $19.9 million and an annual operating cost of $14.7 million.

      “But we’re pushing to get this full 30 percent in the first five years, because it is so desperately needed,” McKellar said. “The number of people over 70 in Metro Vancouver, well, they’re going to be increasing by 40 percent in the next decade.”

      A HandyDART rider explains why she is voting "yes" in the transit referendum.
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      According to Jordan Bateman, spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s No TransLink Tax campaign, a “yes” win won’t benefit HandyDART riders.

      “Past behaviour predicts future behaviour, and we know what TransLink does with HandyDART,” Bateman told the Straight by phone from Langley. “The board of directors has a completely different view of that service than the people who use it.”

      The deadline to ask Elections B.C. for a voting package is Friday (May 15). Ballots must be received by Elections B.C. before 8 p.m. on May 29.




      May 13, 2015 at 11:36am

      Bateman was one of the vocal supporters of Gordon Campbell & Kevin Falcon's imposition of an appointed board with closed meetings. He was one of Kevin Falcon's key allies in promoting freeway expansion over transit improvements.

      He said about eliminating the elected board: "Having pros on board is a good idea from where I sit. They know the ins and outs of the business and, most importantly, have the time to invest in the operation. Having municipal politicians lead this thing in the time they cleave away from their city or regional duties has not been effective" http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/03/09/TransLink-Biggest-Hater/

      I'm voting Yes. For better transit, including better HandyDART service.

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      No Doubt

      May 13, 2015 at 11:38am

      I write this in the Public interest with no vested special interest, I support Transit but at reasonable cost NOT at any cost.

      I am sure that this is well meaning however Translink has shown zero interest in listening to this legitimate issue by this person and/or group, as stated HandyDART service has been frozen since 2009.

      Neither a 'Yes' nor 'No' vote would have any impact on HandyDART currently, within the next 5 or 10 years.

      A 'Yes' vote does NOT give any added capacity it is a small part of the about $8 billion in funding the Mayors are seeking from both the Federal & Provincial Government.

      Neither the Federal nor the Provincial governments have said anything and indeed they are against this specific additional funding as outlined by the Mayors for Transit in BC.

      The governments are funding the building of 'PPP' Private Public Partnerships based infrastructure like Bridges and Tunnels NOT added capacity with Trains and Buses.

      Aka Corporate Welfare so they can turn around and give 30 to 50 Year Tolls contracts to Private Corporations for their profit.

      It seems most people considering a 'Yes' vote think this automatically and/or is likely to provide added capacity, this is simply NOT the case.

      Added Transit capacity is SOLELY dependent on Funding from the Federal and Provincial Governments of at least $8 Billion +++ they have shown ZERO interest in doing this regardless of a 'Yes' vote.

      Indeed a review of Translinks Financial statements and budgets for 2014 show at least $300 to $400 million in waste that can easily be re-directed to increase capacity today!


      - $84 Million allocated in 2014 to Compass to catch at best $5 to $7 million in 'Fare Evasion'

      - Compass will NEVER pay for itself, $15 Million in Operating costs per year budgeted,

      - $20 Million +++ in 'Studies', these can be done for Free or a fraction of this cost by local Colleges or Universities,

      - $32 Million projected possible $50 Million per year for Transit only Police aka $100,000 per year + Fare Checkers when local City Police can and do attend any Emergencies involving Transit,

      Waiting for up to 10 years after a 'Yes' vote for a "Promise" of added capacity is stupid besides most of these politicians won't be around in a few years let alone 5 to 10 years from now.

      A 'Yes' vote is crazy a 'No' vote would force them to bring a better proposal to us the people.

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      May 13, 2015 at 12:29pm

      Another day and we get the emotional appeal: the "yes" side has held this one until late in the game knowing how often a last minute heart tug can change a mind at the poll. Cuts to Handy Dart have been a traditional way for Translink to appearing desperate need of cash, after all nobody wants to cut a vital service so things must be serious. Poppycock. Handy Dart is a high profile service that bureaucrats know will be a headline grabber when they cut the budget and such cuts will lead most drones to blame government or "overpaid" frontline employees yet it is the overpaid managers and executives who decide where cuts are made.

      The "Yes" side held this one back because they know their doomsday scenario doesn't hold up under scrutiny. They believed that it would be a simple matter to win this referendum and get access to millions with which to increase the bureaucracy and double down their misappropriations for Compass. The "Yes" side assembled a broad coalition ranging from folks who see a profit to be had to groups who's sole reason for existence is to demand more money from taxpayers for their interests from legitimate to absurd.

      Fear of losing what we have is a sham motivator but one of the few avenues open to "Yes" propaganda. We are told that we must accept the institutional failure of Translink and give them more money otherwise there will be cuts. Then there are some who tell us that Translink is actually a successful transit overseer and that their decisions nothing's like Compass have been entirely sound: after all Translink has the most complex & unique system anywhere on the planet. The real problem for the "Yes" side is that people don't seem to be falling for the party line as easily as usual. This is a rare opportunity to have a direct say in how we are taxed and who gets the proceeds: that is why so many people are saying "No" beyond the anti-tax right.

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      May 13, 2015 at 2:14pm

      Look folks... this isnt a vote YES for anything or a vote NO for anything. It is a NON BINDING plebiscite. What that means, is that it promises nothing either way.

      What IS going to happen, however, is that the Mayors' plan will continue to be implemented and other even more distasteful means of raising funds such as road pricing ( where you pay to rent the time on every road and your whereabouts are tracked via GPS 24 hrs a day).

      The only thing useful about this referendum is that it sends a big message that paying more for more transit is very unpopular.

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      May 14, 2015 at 9:53am

      Seriously?!? - The Fare Gate / Compass program was imposed by Minister Kevin Falcon too; and of course Bateman supported it. And Bateman was one of the most vigorous boosters of the Port Mann toll bridge and the multi-billion dollar Massey Bridge scheme.

      What we need is more and better transit, and an elected and accountable board running our transit system again. Transit is popular, even though Falcon and Bateman have worked so hard to undermine it. I say Vote Yes for better transit, and keep pushing to restore an elected and accountable board to run our transit system.

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      Xander Davis

      May 14, 2015 at 2:58pm

      It's not rather late in the game to bring Christie Clark into the squabble and add increases to the city taxes, driver licences, regional ICBC payments and the like.
      Vote No to bring back Miss Clark's sensible extra options.

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      Evil Eye

      May 15, 2015 at 6:39am

      Build with cheaper LRT instead of an expensive SkyTrain subway. Modern LRT is 100% accessible by the mobility impaired, without expensive elevators!

      Handy Dart should be funded by the Ministry of Health and not TransLink.

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      May 15, 2015 at 8:52am

      quite the opposite, firing Translink might get rid of the US company MV Transportation that operates HandyDART at twice the cost of local taxi companies - Vote NO to wasteful Translink and for the same money get twice the service for disabled from local operators

      Handy Dart Driver

      Jun 30, 2015 at 7:26pm

      I voted yes, and so did the other two members in my household, but my worry is, all the obsticals that translink has created within the last couple of years, will have swayed the no vote. Translink link has messed up too many times. I'm a little worried as the outcome can cause even more increases, ie. Fare rates, municipal taxes, higher bridge tolls etc. the mayors will make it happen regardless. Let's hope they don't forget about the one needed service, HandyDart!

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