High Hopes Dashed; Transit Riders Face More of the Same
Transit Unions Disappointed in Lack of Leadership
Burnaby—Metro Vancouver transit riders and drivers facing significant stress under the current system can expect only more of the same following yesterday’s announcement from Minister Todd Stone on TransLink governance and referendum, say transit union leaders.
Minister Stone said he would be willing to extend the referendum window to June 2015, if Metro Mayors present a “vision” for ongoing funding, effectively pushing responsibility off the province, onto the Mayors’ Council.
Nathan Woods, Unifor Local 111, said, “This is sad news for the 1.1 million people in the region who use the system each day. Transit users and car commuters are squeezed in this back and forth. Riders are facing ongoing service cuts and congestion is only getting worse for drivers.”
“This was a chance for the Premier and her Minister to show leadership and take responsibility,” said David Black from MoveUP. “It’s disappointing they continue to play the politics of division by punting the question back to the Mayors, instead of working on a collaborative and sustainable solution. We’re worried we’re getting further away from clear, long-term TransLink funding, instead of closer.”
If Metro mayors don’t come forward with a “vision”, the province is threatening that the next opportunity for transit expansion would be a referendum in conjunction with the 2017 local government elections. The Mayors’ Council could only use existing funding sources to support transit until then, making it unlikely the region would see service expand until well after 2017.
Minister Stone’s announcement also states the TransLink Board of Directors will remain unelected and in control of day-to-day decisions. “This is the wrong direction for governance. Elected officials need to be in charge of real decisions at TransLink or there’s no real accountability,” said Mark Hancock, president of CUPE BC.
“The elephant in the room—the governance model—has not been dealt with,” said Darryl Walker, president of the BCGEU. “We’re no closer to getting our transit system the resources it needs, with decisions made by elected officials.”
“The decisions made by the TransLink board have a big impact on the economy. Transit expansion will create jobs, get people to work more quickly and ease the flow of goods in the region. We need a solution, and this wasn’t it.” said Tom Sigurdson, Executive Director of the BC Building Trades.
- Unifor represents over 3,500 workers at Coast Mountain Bus Company.
- MoveUP represents 866 workers at Coast Mountain Bus, TransLink and Transit Police.
- BCGEU represents 156 workers on the Canada Line.
- CUPE BC represents 737 workers at Skytrain and Coast Mountain Bus.
Unifor Local 111 President Nathan Woods, 604-790-1465
MoveUP: Sage Aaron, Communications, 604-317-6153, email@example.com
BCGEU: Evan Stewart, Communications, 604-220-3095
CUPE BC: Clay Suddaby, Communications, 604-313-1138, firstname.lastname@example.org
BC Building Trades, Executive Director Tom Sigurdson, 778-397-2220