14 January 2008

Speak Out: Privatizing Transit

Since our members are making a regular habit of emailing me their thoughts on various issues concerning working peoples around BC, Canada and the world, I thought it would make sense to have a sort of unified title for these ala our "Wobbly Art" series. So, welcome to the first "edition" of "Speak Out"--the running column of sorts kept running by all the so inclined members of the Vancouver IWW.

Today's piece is on the recent events surrounding Translink and the future of public transit in British Columbia. As always, the views expressed here are those of the individuals members, and not necessarily those of the branch or union as a whole.

Privatizing Transit

As of January 1st of this year, Translink has raised their fares. Despite a $17 million surplus they have still found it necessary to charge riders more for the buses, skytrains, and seabuses of this area. For those who have gotten the short end of the capitalist stick this is very seriousmany people depend upon public transit as a means of transportation and often rely on bus services for their livelihood. When someone's income is low, the bus fare becomes yet another burden along with rent, groceries, bills, etc that the capitalist wage system is reluctant to cover. As such many people are aware of the rise in fares and have begun to feel their affects. However, what has been largely ignored is the BC government's decision on November 29th, 2007, to instate Bill 43.

This piece of legislature more or less removes any vestiges of democratic accountability from the Translink Board of Directors. What once was a democratically elected board of public officials is now a privately controlled board of capitalists who received their positions by appointment from such organisations as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC, the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council. This new board of directors will be able to institute a wide range of new policies without the same level of accountability to the people that was present before. Could the total privatization of our transit system be far off? An ominous development in this story was that the new board of directors came into power on January 1st and got busy right away, raising the fares on the very same day. This rather unsubtle move has received limited fanfare within the media.

What has received even less attention from the capitalist press has been a grassroots effort to oppose Bill 43. A spirited rally was held on November 21st, but more can and should be done to ensure that the transit system, upon which so many people depend, is kept out of the hands of a few businessmen who have no concern for the voice of the people.

External Links:

Keep Transit Public:

Bus Rider's Union


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