It has been an eventful few months for HandyDART riders. We now have a new government in Victoria that has made some impressive promises about HandyDART and TransLink. At the HandyDART Riders Alliance, we are hopeful but it looks like the new NDP government may need a reminder of the urgency of acting on these promises.
During the election, the BC NDP made a number of promises. One of the most important is to “Fix TransLink” by restoring democratic control. The BC NDP platform states that the “BC Liberals made a mess of Metro Vancouver’s transportation governance, by undermining the mayors, giving power to Liberal appointees over elected officials [and] passing the buck when convenient.”
The “Liberal appointees” are still on the TransLink board, and the NDP has not yet told us when they will be removed and democratic control restored. The TransLink board is meeting on Thursday September 28 at 10 am and we will be there. Please join us!
Join us at 10 am to 12 noon on Thursday Sept 28
TransLink Boardroom – 4th Floor
#400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC
We are not that interested in talking to the “Liberal appointees” but will have signs aimed at encouraging the provincial government to fulfil their promises quickly. And we will be talking to any reporters who attend. Until a new board is in place, Minister Selina Robinson and Premier John Horgan are directly responsible for everything TransLink does.
One of the urgent issues the NDP has not yet dealt with is contracting out. The decision will be made soon on contracting out HandyDART again for a minimum of 3-5 years, or bringing HandyDART in house. We believe that TransLink received direction from the previous BC Liberal government to contract out without serious consideration of any other option.
TransLink issued a Request for Proposals for HandyDART contracting out and the corporations have already filed their responses. It is what happens next that is the question. Will the NDP seriously consider bringing HandyDART in house, empower a new TransLink board of elected officials to make the decision, or will they choose “passing the buck” to a bunch of “Liberal appointees”?
If you agree that the NDP should act quickly on their promises, and that HandyDART should be brought in house, please write Premier John Horgan at firstname.lastname@example.org (emails will be passed on to Minister Robinson). You can also phone the office of Selina Robinson, Minister Responsible for TransLink at (250) 387-2283.
Human Rights Complaint – We believe that high quality HandyDART service should be non-negotiable. We see the poor quality of HandyDART service associated with contracting out as a human rights violation, and filed a human rights complaint. This complaint was recently accepted by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, and mediation is tentatively scheduled for mid-December. We will let you know how it goes!
Service Increases – The BC NDP also made some impressive promises regarding increasing HandyDART service. Their platform states: “HandyDART service hours were frozen by Christy Clark and the BC Liberals in 2009, and as a result, trip denials went up over 600 per cent. Service quality has also deteriorated, with riders routinely forced to wait for hours. We will work with TransLink and BC Transit to find long and lasting solutions to improve HandyDART service, reduce trip denials, and ensure that seniors and people with disabilities get the rides they need.”
John Horgan also committed to providing funding through a special grant to increase HandyDART service hours by 5% per year for the next four years at a Metro Vancouver Alliance electoral assembly. We will be working with our allies at the Metro Vancouver Alliance to ensure this commitment is honored.