To the editor:
I am very upset by the current transit strike. [City of Kelowna Not Involved With BC Transit Negotiations, Nov. 11 Kelowna Capital News.] I respectfully submit that this strike is indeed the responsibly of all levels of government.
I know and understand first hand of the many seniors and persons with disabilities who rely on transit as their only form of transportation. I also know that this loss with create only further hardships and isolation in their lives. Persons with disabilities who have their meagre monthly incomes reduced by $55 to pay for their transit service — these funds will be wasted. The same goes for those who bought their monthly bus passes. These funds are not retained by the “operator” but by those who manage and make the decisions regarding transit — in this case, the City of Kelowna, BC Transit and the provincial government.
I am really upset by the comment made by our mayor, that the City of Kelowna is not involved or will they get involved in this dispute. When in actual fact they are, in part, the reason that their is a dispute in the first place. While mayor and council would have the general public believe that they are not involved is, at best, misleading, the City of Kelowna in partnership with BC Transit call all the shots when it comes to the management of our transit services, including the budgeting of public tax dollars to fund transit.
The city and BC Transit own all the land buildings, buses and equipment. They set and approve the routes, infrastructure, scheduling and frequency of service and the fares. Together the city and BC Transit tender out and contract an “operator” (in this case, First Canada), who then carries out the directives given to them by the city/BC Transit.
Does First Canada have any direct say in the budget or management directives? No. Does First Canada have any vested interest in Kelowna Transit, outside of carrying out their directives? No.
So forgive me when I get upset to hear the City of Kelowna (mayor and council) say they are “not involved!”
Yes, while it is true, the city does not hire the drivers directly, BC Transit sets the hiring and conduct standards, etc. It is also true that they set and approve the budget. Is there any consideration given when developing the budget as to wage increases that may be addressed? It seems not.
The Kelowna Regional Transit Service is a publicly tax-funded service (municipal and provincial) and as such the public should have access to this service. All parties need to get involved to restore transit services in Kelowna. Stop using First Canada as your scapegoat — this is your responsibility too.
The voters are counting on you to handle their tax dollars responsibly.
Joyce Mainland, Kelowna