Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Traffic

Vote the Vision slate, and vote for Ferdinand Ramos, who’s fighting for a hospitality workers’ transit discount

Once you’ve voted the Vision Vancouver slate — from bottom to top, starting with Tony Tang, Tim Stevenson, then Niki Sharma and on up the line — give a vote to Ferdinand Ramos, the Hotel Workers United council candidate who’s campaigning for a new transit discount for Metro Vancouver’s tens of thousands of hospitality workers.

The $1 billion hospitality sector is vital to the city’s economy, but workers in hotels, bars and tourism struggle to make ends meet.

Transit costs are a huge burden for hospitality workers, who often have to make a three-zone trip in the early morning to get to work and make the same trek home in the afternoon, after a full day of room cleaning, food service or guest services. Ramos himself is a tradesman at one of the major downtown Vancouver hotels.

Ramos is telling the transit story we haven’t heard enough in this campaign: the struggle of tens of thousands of workers across the region who rely on it to go to and from their jobs. His solution is practical: a transit discount pass for hospitality workers to help them get to work.

And he’s winning. The new agreement for employees at the Hyatt Regency, the Four Seasons, the Renaissance, the Westin Bayshore and Sutton Hotels includes a 15 percent transit discount pass. You don’t have to be a union member to benefit from Ramos’ campaign. If implemented as he proposes, the transit discount pass would be available to hospitality workers across the region, union or non-union.

I welcomed Ramos to the Vision Vancouver office last week to hear about his campaign and you can see a video of the conversation here. I’m voting Ramos, he’s endorsing me — you should consider him too.


November 10, 2014

Toronto transit improvements would raise the bar with more frequency, night service, time-based fares

The Toronto Transit Commission is proposing a rider-focussed set of service improvements for its sprawling system, with more frequent service; a commitment to operate all routes all day long, every day; more night service; more transit priority; and a switch to fare payments that buy two hours on the system, not just a single trip.

It’s a package that raises the bar for transit improvements, particularly when major capital investments like streetcar and subway expansion take decades to implement. Most of the cost in the TTC plan is driven by wages, fuel and maintenance.

But the proposal has much in common with the Mayor’s Council 10-year plan for Metro Vancouver, which includes many of the same reforms. The cost of the Toronto plan: $69 million a year by 2018, with $288 million in new capital over over five years.

August 18, 2014

Translink riders need to hear from the top about system shutdowns, what will be done about them

After two massive transit system shutdowns in less than a week — one of which saw hundreds of passengers risk injury or death by fleeing cars along elevated guideways — it’s time to hear from Translink CEO Ian Jarvis what happened, why and what will be done.

If Translink doesn’t quickly organize an inquiry, someone else should — perhaps the Translink Mayor’s Council, which now has slightly expanded powers to direct Translink’s affairs.

So far, only public relations officers have been thrown out to the media pack, which is demanding answers on behalf of hundreds of thousands of stranded riders. The message box: it’s a “glitch” or a “short circuit” and “we’re 95 percent reliable.” Oh, and “we apologize,” and there won’t be any refunds. It’s neither fair nor appropriate to make these staffers the human shield. (Skytrain president Fred Cumming was quoted in some news reports last week.)

Both internal and arms-length investigations are warranted into these extraordinary events, which caused massive disruption and exposed many to risk of injury or death.

Contrast what happened in December in New York, when the derailment of a Long Island commuter train left four death and scores injured. More serious, certainly, but who knows what factors helped avert casualties here?

Within hours, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the scene, MTA chairman Tom Prendergast had announced an internal investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board began its own review. Investigators quickly concluded the train driver had fallen asleep. [Read more →]

July 22, 2014

Metro Mayors review Stone’s comments in Legislature for hints on future of transit referendum

Metro Vancouver Mayors are poring over the transcript of this week’s Legislature exchange between Transportation Minister Todd Stone and George Heyman, the opposition critic and NDP MLA for Fairview.

The takeaway: no breaking stories in this debate during estimates, but confirmation of some important developments in the continuing transit funding saga, including funding for a Pattullo Bridge replacement and a willingness to implement road pricing if it’s approved by voters.

Here’s the transcript, which can be found here: [Read more →]

April 4, 2014