Response to Transport 2050

As a part of TransLink's Transport 2050 Strategy, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, Homeless Services Association of BC, and Pivot Legal Society write to address transit poverty and the role of TransLink in eradicating inequity within its ridership.


Vincent Gonsalves
Transport 2050 Team
Manager Community Relations
TransLink

Via Email

August 25, 2021

Dear Vincent, 

RE: Response to Transport 2050

We write on behalf of three organizations that prioritize work which affirms equity, particularly as it relates to individuals and communities who rely on public space, including those experiencing homelessness, housing precarity, income inequality, and the criminalization of poverty.

Background

BC Poverty Reduction Coalition

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (“BCPRC”) is comprised of over 100 organizations and community mobilizations that come together to advocate for public policy solutions to end poverty, homelessness and inequality in B.C. We aim to improve the health and well-being of all living in British Columbia. The Coalition advocates for a targeted and comprehensive poverty reduction strategy that prioritizes equity-seeking groups, and a whole government, cross-ministry approach to ending poverty. Our work is grounded in the foundation of universal human rights.

Homelessness Services Association of BC

The Homelessness Services Association of BC (“HSABC”) is an umbrella organization of shelters, drop-in centres, homeless outreach teams and other service providers addressing the needs of persons experiencing homelessness with the goal to ending homelessness. Our over 230 Members Organizations can access regular workshops and webinars, participate in regional and provincial coordination and research initiatives, and benefit from advocacy on behalf of our sector.

Pivot Legal Society

Pivot Legal Society (“Pivot”) is a legal organization based in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant Electoral District. Our scope exceeds this district, however, as staff work in partnership with communities affected by poverty and social exclusion across Vancouver, BC, and Canada to identify priorities and develop solutions to complex human rights issues. Pivot’s work is focused on four policy areas: ending homelessness, drug policy reform, sex workers’ rights, and police accountability. Our work engages all levels of government, including provincial laws and policies.

 

Addressing Transit Inequality & Transit Poverty

As Takeshita (2020) points out, transit inequalities “are disproportionately felt by lower income communities, communities of color, and people who rely on transit as their main mode of travel.”[1] This inequality can be described as “transit poverty,” wherein “traditional forms of marginalization, such as poverty or being a member of a racialized community, intersect with transport disadvantages like not being able to afford a car, not feeling safe on the sidewalk or not being served by adequate public transit options.”[2] Geography scholar Faber cautions that “vague equity goals are increasingly common in transportation plans…such plans need to be backed up by evidence, standards, legislation, monitoring and enforcement to ensure sufficient funding. No such legislation or equity-related standards exist in Canada at the moment.”[3]

We have identified high-level priorities that relate to Transport 2050, the Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) for Metro Vancouver. Our organizations are putting forth the following recommendations, which relate to Transport 2050 priorities:

  • Free-fare public transit
  • Organization-wide stigma auditing to address gaps in social equity, including training for operators, attendants, police & security
  • Include an analysis of social condition in all Translink policies
  • Immediately reduce reliance on Transit Police & Security and invest in peer- and community-led crisis response that reflect the needs of affected groups

Transport 2050 has the potential to resolve transit poverty and underlying inequity issues that impact transit users across the region served. We encourage Translink to arrange consultation and feedback sessions with the ridership most affected by these issues, including peer-led organizations.

 

Additional Recommended Resources

If you would like more in-depth feedback from our organizations, please do not hesitate to directly contact us to arrange this.

Sincerely,

 

Rowan Burdge
Provincial Director
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition

Stephen D’Souza 
Executive Director
Homelessness Services Association of BC

Meenakshi Mannoe
Criminalization & Policing Campaigner
Pivot Legal Society

 

[1] https://www.pps.org/article/great-public-spaces-expecting-more-of-transit-stops-stations
[2] https://www.utoronto.ca/news/transport-poverty-u-t-researchers-lead-national-effort-support-equity-transportation-planning
[3] https://www.utoronto.ca/news/transport-poverty-u-t-researchers-lead-national-effort-support-equity-transportation-planning