Displaying items by tag: transit - New Canadian Media
New Canadian Media
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 12:18

Cathy Wong’s Fear of a Bus Driver

By Ashoke Dasgupta in Winnipeg, MB

Cathy Wong (61), who emigrated from Hong Kong, had an unpleasant experience last December, with a racist bus driver.

The incident came on the eve of an unprecedented bus fare increase for services that have been deteriorating over the last two years.

Wong lives way down Pembina Highway in Winnipeg, just before the Ring Road, and takes two buses to work —  the 162 and the 15 —   in that order.

She works in a hotel near the Richardson International Airport. On December 13 afternoon, Wong took the Number 162 as usual to Portage Place, where she alighted to transfer to a Number 15. The driver of the 162 stopped to get coffee from Tim Hortons; he took the wrong route after that, delaying the bus while he got back on the right track.

The 15 arrived late too. When she entered, its middle-aged, male, white driver pointed out that her transfer had expired ten minutes ago. Wong was willing to pay afresh, reaching for her purse, but changed her mind because the driver was unpleasant. He seemed to accept her explanation grudgingly, allowing her to board the bus.

“He didn’t kick me out,” she told New Canadian Media: “As the (on-board) camera may show.”

When the time came for her to get off at her place of work, there were only two passengers left in the bus: herself and a colleague. The colleague got out the back door while Wong went to the front door.

Toxic memory 

The driver refused to open the door for her, saying he was punishing Wong for not paying the fare. He stopped after driving on for about two minutes saying, “Go back to your country,” as she got off.

The animosity of his parting shot is a toxic memory for the slight, quiet woman. Wong fears encountering the same driver again because he may start playing micro-aggressive games with her, as bus drivers are known to do.

Wong, who does not know English well despite her 32 years in this country, called 311 to report the incident, and Winnipeg Transit investigated the matter. She took off from work until the New Year.  

Wong says graciously , “I think about it for long time, who wrong and right. I don’t want he to get more pressure. In my life I make a lot of bad things, but some of my friends forgive me. I let this gone, and stay away. Please don’t call Transit Company.[sic]

She informed in an e-mail on January 13 “Last week Transit  call me  . and I told them about the bus # 162 got lost from its original route , and  ...everything . The Transit Said ‘ sorry’ to me.[sic]  

Racism exists 

Ross Eadie, a Winnipeg Councillor who takes the bus regularly said, “No driver should be making racist comments, and I’m seriously disappointed in this remark. It was a vicious incident on two counts: apart from the racist comment, it must have been cold and windy to walk extra. I missed a stop a few times, and didn’t like walking back in freezing temperatures.

“Racism exists in our population, and buses reflect what’s going on in society. Once I saw a sick young Aboriginal slumped in a bus. Everyone assumed he was drunk. I went to him and asked what the matter was. I was able to coax a few words out of him in time: ‘I want to die.’ He turned out to be a diabetic refugee from a flooded area of Manitoba with nowhere to go at the time. The driver demurred that he was already running late when I suggested he call for an ambulance . . .”

Matt Allard, another Councillor, takes the bus regularly to acquaint himself with Winnipeg Transit’s issues, but did not respond to e-mail or voice mail queries.

Alissa Clark, Manager of Communications, Winnipeg Transit, says, “The safety and security of its passengers is of the utmost importance to Winnipeg Transit. It is also very important that our passengers feel welcome and respected.  While we are unable to comment on the specifics of the incident you’re referring to because it is an HR matter, we would like to say that we spoke with Ms. Wong in early January to offer our apologies. All operators participate in extensive, ongoing customer service training which involves segments on respecting diversity.”

Early this month, City officials revealed an $8.7 million surplus, though they said they had no choice but to hike bus fares $0.25 a ride in January. The ticket prices usually rise $0.05 annually. This jump has caused low-income people even more hardship. 


 Ashoke Dasgupta is a member of the NCM Collective based out of Winnipeg. As a journalist, he has won three awards in Canada and Nepal.

Published in Commentary

Commentary by Surjit Singh Flora in Brampton

Kathleen Wynne, the current premier of Ontario, and Linda Jeffrey, the past Wynne Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Brampton’s current Mayor, are a study in contrasts.  

As Ontario’s 25th Premier, Wynne is both at the height of her power and the low depths of popularity. But even with her popularity at below 20 per cent, she remains a powerful politician in control of her cabinet and caucus and with the ability to set and implement her political agenda. 

This is despite Wynne’s now self-admitted mismanagement of our province’s electricity system, which she now concedes has caused such hardship in the province that some are forced to choose between feeding themselves or heating their homes. 

It is a sad reality that Premier Wynne and her Liberals are looking more and more likely to hold on to power in the 2018 election as both the NDP and Conservatives appear to be parties struggling to seize any of the public’s attention, let alone imagination. 

On one hand, Andrea Horwath and her NDP seem to have little ground to stand on, given that the Liberals have all but assumed much of the left’s territory, leaving the NDP with few policy options and little to say. 

And, then, there is Patrick Brown, who with so many opportunities to pillory a Liberal government mired in scandal, continues to squander his opportunities to effectively hold this government to account while failing to be consistent in publicly expressing his own party’s policies and platform. 

The recent by-elections in Ottawa and Niagara were an indictment of an ineffective opposition that bodes well for Wynne going into her pre-election year. 

Contrast Wynne with Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey. Like Wynne, Jeffrey served as an Ontario Liberal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, as well as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  Her predecessor, Susan Fennell, had presided over a virtual renaissance in Brampton. 

During her tenure as Mayor, Brampton saw major investments in public infrastructure, and a massive $300 million expansion of public transit funded jointly by all three levels of government despite the fact that, at the time, there was no formal program in place from the Federal and Provincial governments to fund it. 

All of that travelling to Ottawa paved the way for the single largest provincial/federal investment in Brampton’s history, but was ultimately part of what I have always believed to be an organized campaign to run her out of office. 

Her frequent travel was at the heart of unfounded accusations, innuendo and vicious allegations that lasted all of two years. After having been cleared of all but two ridiculously minor issues just days prior to the 2014 municipal election, Fennell lost to Jeffrey, who promised to clean up City Hall. 

Two years later, under Jeffrey’s leadership, Brampton's reputation has sunk to new lows. Jeffrey presides over a fractious Council that cannot agree on anything.  An LRT line that had unprecedented public support was defeated despite over $300 million in approved provincial funding. 

A search for a new chief administrative officer attracted only one candidate, who, since being hired has been on a rampage at City Hall that has seen virtually the entire senior management fired, drawing comparisons to a mini “reign of terror” with blood-soaked corridors and a civil service in disarray. 

And even when she wins, Jeffrey loses.  After recently scoring a coveted nod from her former Liberal government colleagues to locate a university in Brampton, it was revealed that even that effort is plagued with a lack of organization and little in the way of a plan, leaving Council slack-jawed, asking, “What do we do now?”

Wynne and Jeffrey are Liberals, but complete opposites: Wynne is powerful and blessed with a weak opposition; Jeffrey, powerless and cursed with a fractious and ineffective Council. 

But both have one thing in common: they both need to be replaced and 2018 can’t come soon enough.

Brampton-based Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer. 

Published in Politics

Commentary by Priya Ramanujam in Scarborough

I find it insulting for Toronto Mayor John Tory to casually toss around the fact that more than half of Scarborough is foreign-born, and point the finger at his critics for not understanding how the transit experience impacts these immigrants.

Fact is, he doesn’t really understand either.

Tory has come under fire for his “immigrant talk” relating to the proposed one-stop subway expansion to Scarborough.

My mom is one of those foreign-born folks Tory was referring to, and she’s been relying on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) to get her to and from work (as well as everywhere else) for more than 30 years.

“But many of the subway’s loudest critics do not live or work in Scarborough, where more than half the population is born outside of Canada,” wrote Tory in a Toronto Star op-ed on Monday. “When they say this is too much to spend on a subway, the inference seems to be that it’s too much to spend on this part of the city.” 

These two lines set social media ablaze. City councillor Josh Matlow, one of the subway’s most vocal critics, even said Tory “crossed an ethical line” with his implication that the naysayers somehow didn’t care about providing transit solutions for the area.

Tory’s right – many of the critics of the Scarborough subway don’t live or work in the area. The irony, though, neither do many of its champions, the mayor included.

A different universe

Let’s face it. Tory can take all the photo ops he wants on riding the subway. He can speak of critics not wanting to spend money in our part of town. He can hold town hall meetings with the public. 

But, he is doing little to convince me he actually understands. And how could he?

He’s able to walk from the doorstep of his downtown condo to a subway station, ride the train a few stops, stop at the cafeteria to pick up breakfast and be in his office within 20 minutes.

That is a luxury many Scarborough folks will never have, especially since the new one-stop, $3-billion subway plan adds no new stations to the area. It’s merely a long-overdue replacement for the rapid transit (RT).

My mom arrives at her downtown job about 15 minutes after the mayor each day, 6:45 a.m. The difference is, she wakes up every day at 4 a.m., in order to make the one-and-a-half-hour commute to work downtown. And she, like many others, has been doing that for decades.

[My mom] wakes up every day at 4 a.m., in order to make the one-and-a-half-hour commute to work downtown.

Timing is everything

The thing is, it’s no secret that Scarborough is heavily populated by immigrants, as well as the children and grandchildren of immigrants. Like me.

Growing up in the late 80’s, early 90’s, my classes were always filled with children whose parents hailed from all over the world – the Philippines, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, China, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

So why did Tory feel the need to point out something that’s always been common knowledge – at least to those of us he is talking about: you know, the ones who actually live in Scarborough, and ride the transit here.

Well, from Donald Trump to Brexit, anti-immigration sentiment in the West continues to be a hot-button issue. By subtly hinting that critics of the Scarborough subway may be “anti-immigrant” Tory appears to be riding the coattails of this wave.

He’s shifted the conversation from whether or not this proposed plan will actually do anything of value for the residents, to who cares more about immigrants living in Scarborough.  

Distracting from the deeper issues

While Tory’s office issued a statement saying that his op-ed has been misunderstood and was not meant to be divisive, divisive is certainly what it sounds like to me.

Beyond that, it sounds like immigrants are being used as pawns in a political chess game.

[I]t sounds like immigrants are being used as pawns in a political chess game.

He’s said that the one-stop subway extension, expected to serve 1,700 residents living in “neighbourhood improvement areas” (areas identified as falling below the city’s neighbourhood equity score, that often have large newcomer populations), is the way to go.

This is despite predictions that the previously proposed Eglinton East light rapid transit (LRT) solution to Scarborough would service close to 26,000 with up to 17 stops.

He, and other supporters, have also said that it will bring jobs to the area, emphasizing the need for more jobs in “low-income”, “disadvantaged” neighbourhood improvement areas. 

What’s the guarantee, though, that those jobs will go to Scarborough folks? That at the time of hiring, things like their lack of Canadian experience, their “foreign-sounding name” or their understanding of soft skills won’t leave them jobless, while people from outside the area fill the positions.

Unless the mayor’s willing to offer guarantees, it’s best he and the others at City Hall forget about trying to pretend that they really care about newcomers.   

Priya Ramanujam has lived in Scarborough all her life, and has been riding the TTC almost as long. She is production editor for New Canadian Media.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

BY GREGOR ROBERTSON Mayor of Vancouver LIKE cities across Canada, Vancouver is facing a number of big challenges. From the Broadway subway and traffic congestion to spiralling housing costs and near-zero rental vacancy rates, rising sea levels and the impacts of climate change, we must consider how our city will meet the growing […]

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Published in Politics

ONTARIO and its transit partners are making it easier to get to the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games by supporting free, accessible public transit for Games event ticketholders.

On the day of ticketed event, spectators can show their Games competition or ceremonies ticket to get on any of the 14 public transit or specialized transit systems for people with disabilities in the Games region.

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Published in Latin America

Mississauga: As part of the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history, Ontario is moving ahead with the Hurontario-Main Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.  This LRT is a new public transit project, led by Metrolinx, that will bring 23 kilometres of rapid transit to Mississauga and Brampton. The LRT line is proposed to have 26 stops, […]

The Weekly Voice

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Published in National

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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