Justice for Riders:
In 2006, TransLink spent $16.6 million to hire 84 transit police with full powers to arrest, detain and issue fines in and around Skytrain stations. Now there are 156 transit police, and TransLink plans to hire even more. Transit police have guns - which makes Metro Vancouver the first place in Canada with an armed police force.
The transit police say their job is to enforce fares, not protect our safety.
Women have been kicked off the bus and SkyTrain late at night because they don’t have enough money to pay the fare. This puts them at increased risk of assault.
TransLink likes to blame their budget shortage on ‘fare evaders’. This is poor-bashing. In 2007 TransLink lost $6.4 million dollars to fare evasion – less than half of what they spent on transit police. And ninety-seven percent of all rides are paid for! This shows that fare evasion is not a big problem.
Not paying your bus fare is the same as not paying the meter when you park your car. But car drivers with parking tickets are not called criminals. And parking tickets are only $46, which is a lot less than the $173 fine facing bus riders without a valid fare. Bus riders without a valid fare also face the threat of police violence.
People who can’t afford bus fare are treated like criminals. But our transit system belongs to everyone. We paid for it, and the government runs it.
The transit police admit that they have tasered people who did not have a valid fare. It’s no wonder that more and more people are afraid to ride the bus or skytrain because of the police. The fear is felt most intensely in communities of colour – where people also experience racial profiling from transit police.
Putting police on the bus is another step towards treating our transit system like a private business. It’s all part of privatization. Privatization means that private companies make money off of the transit system that we pay for.
Over the last five years fares have gone up forty percent! High fares are also caused by privatization. So are cuts to service. The money raised from service cuts and high fares is being used to build the Canada line. The Canada line is the largest privatization project in Canadian history, and it is going to cost over $2 billion dollars. That’s a lot more than ‘fare evasion’ ever cost the transit system.