Where are immigrant organizations’ voices in debate over new transit investments?

The debate over the future of Metro Vancouver’s transit system — particularly how much-needed expansion will be funded — has been dominated by politicians and some business groups.

Notably absent are the voices of riders, particularly new immigrants for whom public transit is an absolute necessity. Erik Villagomez of re:place magazine illuminated this topic recently with a new analysis of census data from the Lower Mainland.

That triggered this piece I wrote for Philippine News Today, urging immigrant community leaders to speak up about Translink’s plans.

Although business groups across the region, especially chambers of commerce and the Vancouver Board of Trade, are active participants in the transit funding issue behind the scenes, other key groups have remained silent.

With the exception of student federations, whose One-Pass campaign produced action to create a single transit pass for all post-secondary students, the various actors who were so vocal around the RAV line debate are now silent. Unions, bus riders’ “unions” and other key stakeholders are nowhere to be seen.

This and the chaos in Victoria make it almost certain that Translink’s new supplements, designed to find money for at least the Evergreen Line and the North Fraser Perimeter Road, will fail at the Mayor’s Council in December. That will make 2010 the second year in a row the region has passed on new investment in public transit.