United Way urges a YES vote in the transit referendum

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Transit improvements help all including lower-income families and seniors

United Way of the Lower Mainland has joined the Better Transit & Transportation Coalition in support of transit and transportation improvements, especially for those most in need, through a traffic congestion improvement tax.

“United Way believes that every person who lives here should have access to the same opportunities to build a better life for themselves. We feel that the half-percent tax increase is a fair and equitable way to help people living in the Lower Mainland, in particular, lower-income working families and seniors,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland.

One in four seniors in the Lower Mainland lives alone. The Mayor’s Plan includes a 30 per cent increase in HandyDART services and accessibility upgrades at transit stations and bus loops.

 “I use HandyDART every week, sometimes three times a week. Every Monday I go to the South Vancouver seniors group,” said Kamlesh Sethi, a senior living in Surrey. “An increase to HandyDART will help people like me get to doctor’s appointments and visit friends.”

Seniors face barriers to getting around. Statistics show that half the people over the age of 75 have a problem simply walking, and driving isn’t an option for many. With limited transportation options, seniors risk becoming socially isolated. The toll loneliness takes on older people is severe and has been shown to be as dangerous as smoking. 

By 2036, Metro Vancouver’s population of people 65 and older is expected to more than double. More than one of four of us will be a senior. 

High housing costs mean that lower-income working families are moving away from Vancouver often resulting in longer commute times. Parents may work multiple jobs or night shifts. Low-wage earners are heavy transit users: 32 per cent of their trips are by transit, double the regional average of 14 per cent.

Parents with fewer transportation options have less time to spend with their children and to participate in community life outside of work. When parents do better, their children do better. The Mayors’ Plan supports a 25 per cent increase in transit services, including an 80 per cent increase in night bus service, important for students and night shift workers.

About United Way of the Lower Mainland

United Way is a charitable organization established over 80 years ago to support families, children and seniors in need. We are leaders in our field developing partnerships, tracking progress, and bringing the right people together to initiate change. UWLM funds 150 agencies throughout the Lower Mainland to deliver more than 450 programs and services. Last year, we helped 400,000 people in the Lower Mainland.

For more information, visit www.uwlm.ca.

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