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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

    Transit Group to Push Late Night Bus Service

    Lower Mainland transit users are organizing a campaign to bring back late night bus service to communities.

    The Bus Riders Union, an ad hoc group of transit customers, is building a campaign for the full restoration of 14 Night Owl routes cut in October 2001 after lower mainland transit services were turned over to the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

    The board of the then newly created regional company, known as Translink, introduced sweeping austerity measures, claiming it could no longer operate the system at the current budget level. The move generated widespread community opposition and prompted an eight-week strike by bus drivers that year.

    On June 25, the board voted to restore skeletal late night service on four downtown Vancouver bus routes on Fridays and Saturdays only. The BRU, formed in response to the cuts in 2001, says that isn’t good enough.

    “Anything less (than the full late night services) is a slap in the face to all bus riders, low-wage workers, the unemployed, immigrants and refugees, seniors, students and people with disabilities,” say the group’s spokespersons in a press release. “We deserve full and equal access to the social, political and economic life of our region 24/7.”

    Organizers for the campaign say the removal of late night service amounts to a “curfew” op people who work nights. They claim many of these workers are employed in low-paying or part-time service and janitorial jobs and don’t have any real transportation alternatives other than public transit.

    Since July 4, service has been restored between 2 am and 6 am on four Downtown Vancouver routes: the West End, East Vancouver and North Burnaby, Kitsilano/West Broadway/UBC and East Vancouver along Kingsway to Burnaby and New Westminster.

    The move was initiated by progressive city councillors in Vancouver and Burnaby lobbying Translink as part of both the Coalition of Progressive Electors and the Burnaby Citizens Association election commitments to improve transit.

    But the BRU insists this move is at best a stopgap measure.

    “This measure, taken in response to the lobbying of downtown business owners, leaves bus riders out in the cold five nights a week. Even on Friday and Saturday most bus riders will face long walks getting to and from one of the four routes, which are designed with only downtown bar patrons in mind.”

    The group is planning several actions throughout the summer to promote the restoration of late night service. These include late-night leafleting at bus loops and Skytrain stations across the city. They are also planning public meeting on transit issues on July 28 and are encouraging people to attend the next Translink board meeting on July 30.

    Anyone interested can contact the Bus Riders Union via e-mail at bru@resist.ca or by phone at 604-215-2775

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