Petition for K-W residents to have free access to transit

Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

A local Kitchener-Waterloo organization has amped up their push to make public transit free for lower-class residents throughout the region.

The Alliance Against Poverty (AAP), founded over a decade ago, is an alliance of individuals from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds striving to eliminate poverty.

They have launched campaigns aimed at housing and living wage in the past and have now decided to take on public transit.

The AAP sets itself apart from other similar groups by refusing government donations and by instituting a system of wealth redistribution whereby members who can afford to do so pay a 50 dollar monthly membership fee and members who are in need of assistance may take 50 dollars from their pool.

“We’re all about wealth redistribution and easing the burden of poverty,” said Brayden McNeill, AAP member. “I think that’s a really significant aspect of the AAP, is that we practice what we preach.”

The latest push in their Accessible Transit for All campaign was a presentation delivered by AAP member, Regan Brusse, on September 21 to the Waterloo Regional Council.

This latest presentation was not the first time the AAP has come before council, as the group has been advocating for accessible transit for the region’s lower class for years with little success.

Grand River Transit currently offers a monthly T.R.I.P pass (Transit for Reduced Income Program), which brings the cost of a monthly pass down to 42 dollars for riders with the remainder subsidized through social services, but the program currently has a waitlist over 475 residents long.

“The region allocates a certain amount of money every year for the T.R.I.P. pass, but once that number is reached they don’t top up the money, they don’t make more T.R.I.P. passes available,” said McNeill.

“The region treats GRT like a business, when it should be treated like a public good. If GRT doesn’t make their budget one year, then the region is there to help them, top them up, but there’s constant pressure for the GRT to make their revenue, to balance their budget, not to provide transportation services that you’re there to provide.”

Though their ultimate vision is for public transit to be available freely to all, their current campaign is focusing on the region to make it available to those on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

Through AAP’s unique membership of individuals of varying economic positions, they encourage not only for topics like transit to be brought to public attention, but also for it to be done by those being affected themselves, as explained by Brusse.

“We want them to stand up themselves, to stand up for what they’ve been through.”

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