Letter: Keep affordable bus passes for disabled in B.C.

This government…has chosen to attack and abuse some of our most vulnerable citizens…counting on their lack of ability to defend themselves.

To the editor:

With only three months remaining, I believe it is time to take some sort of action regarding the removal of affordable transit service for persons with disabilities. To ask a person living on disability assistance of less than $11,000 a year to now pay $624 a year to ride transit is not only unfair, it is cruel. This increase from $45 a year, represents a 133 per cent increase to their transit pass. This will cause not only undue hardship, it will decrease their ability to remain active participants in our community, but it will also impact their safety.

The government has ignored any requests or petitions to restore the $45-per-year bus pass insisting that, come Sept. 1 when they increase their income assistance by $77, that they now just decide whether to keep the $77 ($983/month) or to surrender $52 of the $77 to pay for a monthly bus pass and survive on $931/month. I am certain many are asking themselves whether or not the new increase was truly worth it, if it cost them the loss of affordable transit services. What is next? Taking the same annual transit passes away from low income seniors?

Persons with disabilities who purchased their 2016 yearly bus pass need to know that they did so with the understanding that it expired (as it always has) on Dec. 31. So is it right for government to ask them to start paying for a monthly pass in September, when there is still four months remaining on their 2016 pass? I believe they should keep your $77 increase…you will need it, and continue to use your annual bus pass until it expires. In the meantime continue to lobby government to change its mind and restore your $45/year bus pass.

This government, in my opinion, has chosen to attack and abuse some of our most vulnerable citizens and were counting on their lack of ability to defend themselves and to be heard. Persons with Disabilities have said: Increase our monthly incomes and leave our $45/month bus passes alone.

While this government would have the general public believe that this is an issue of “equity,” it truly is not.  For the minority of persons with disability who are living in communities without transit services, the government should deal with their “transportation needs” and the transit needs the majority of persons with disabilities’ bus passes alone.

Joyce Mainland, Kelowna