Dear Mayor, Councillors and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 president,
As you may already know, I am an advocate for people living in poverty. Most of those I advocate for live in the Halifax Regional Municipality and are regular users of Halifax Transit.
There is concern in my community that Halifax Transit bus service may be even further reduced.
In an open letter the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 508 writes, “The Union wants only essential workers to travel on the bus, and to limit the number of people allowed to be on the bus at any given time.”
I very much agree that transit drivers should be as safe as possible. However, people living in poverty are concerned because they rely on Metro Transit for their day to day living needs.
People use the bus to go to appointments, including regular doctors and specialist appointments and mental Health/addictions counselling, etc.
Most importantly, during COVID-19, people need to get out to pay their bills on income assistance check day and get groceries, plus getting to their food banks.
People I advocate for do not drive, and even if they can drive, owning and operating a vehicle is out of the question due to their financial situation.
Keep in mind that the monthly income for income assistance recipients is at best the standard household rate of $850, and in some cases much less. Most that $850 goes to rent, then there is the Nova Scotia power bill. Whatever they have left is for groceries and personal necessities.
As well, some cannot drive because of mental and/or physical disabilities, Taking cabs to places like groceries, pharmacies, etc., is also out of the question because the cost of taking a cab is something else they cannot afford.
One suggestion I would like to make is “why not increase the capacity of the bus service especially during the early mornings, and between 4pm and 7pm, when people are going to and from work? At these busiest times have extra buses on the roads to absorb some of the overflow, and have less bus service available through the course of the day.
With these extra buses people can better maintain social distance themselves while on bus.
Please give this letter and its contents your attention,
Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.
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