Translink, homeless action groups making headway in push for Regional Homeless Transit Plan

A single use ticket suitable for distribution to the homeless “can be developed and will be implemented” under the Compass card program, Translink CEO Ian Jarvis told a Homeless Action Week transportation forum Wednesday.

Jarvis said Translink is “committed to work with the community and community organizations to find solutions” that will allow service agencies to continue their support to homeless transit users after the Compass card and Faregates become operational.

As things stand, single use tickets are often distributed by service agencies but many homeless riders commute without paying, risking an expensive fine they cannot afford. Those days will be over after the Compass card is implemented, unless Translink makes new arrangements.

Translink tackled the problem in the wake of a motion I proposed to Vancouver council in July after community service organizations realized their only access to transit could be eliminated by the new fare programs.

Karen O’Shannacery of Lookout told the meeting that talks were proceeding well with Translink but community groups were making little headway finding a provincial agency ready to provide necessary funding. The existing program is subsidized by BC Housing. Translink and the Transit Working Group made a joint trip to Seattle to see what programs are in place in the King County transit system.

The forum was organized at Collingwood Neighbourhood Hous, by the Transit Working Group of the Vancouver Urban Core Community Workers’ Association, a coalition of organizations providing shelter, outreach and other services to the homeless.

Vancouver City Council’s call for a Regional Homeless Transit plan, which passed unanimously July 10, has now been endorsed by Surrey City Council and will soon be debated in other Metro municipalities.