Class transit

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Why on earth would you block this service?/ Taras Matkovsky

Why on earth would you block this service?/ Taras Matkovsky

Saskatoon and Regina transit woes are like class warfare

Denying citizens access to public transit should be seen as imposing a restriction on the mobility and ability to generate wealth of a people. The Saskatoon transit lockout is an example of the kind of cruel ideology practiced by conservatives and liberals. In an effort to break the transit workers union, Mayor Don Atchison, the City administration, and Saskatoon City Council are willing to throw the entire dependent population under the bus. If only those buses were moving, right Atch?

Politicians such as Atchison become their own gravediggers, making more and more people aware of the alienation they experience in their day-to-day lives. Part-time service industry workers cannot afford to take a taxi to work, harming productivity in the businesses that mainly serve as Atchison’s constituency. Those who use Saskatoon’s public transit system can see the gap narrowing between the talking points of liberal democracy and the economic dictatorship of living paycheck to paycheck. If one cannot afford a car, or cannot drive, that person is not worth a dime to the city administration and City Council. Parents cannot get their children to doctor’s appointments, students cannot get to school, and the elderly are confined to their homes. This will likely not hurt the mayor politically, as his base largely does not care about the aforementioned bus-riding classes.

The ability to move within the city is absolutely essential to urban living; this should be a given. Living in a sprawling city such as Saskatoon, one requires a personal automobile or a functioning transit system to have any degree of mobility. Denying people access to a public transit system for any reason deprives them of the ability to produce any sort of wealth, making one question the nature of the state on the local level: who is it designed to benefit?

Saskatoon’s struggles against a reactionary municipal government are mirrored in Regina. While Regina Transit increases fees 48 per cent over three years, we are told it is to catch up with larger centres. This may be a fine answer if the city were doing a thing to increase the quality of service to reflect this change. This fee increase will not increase ridership and will not go to making transit more attractive or accessible. Regina Transit does not aim to make transit attractive; they look to shift more and more of the cost of running the municipal government onto those who can afford it least.

Cities were the birthplace of democracy and represented the shift from repressive, centralized bureaucratic authority to a free, egalitarian democracy. Allowing municipal governments to pass an undue amount of stress on its least-able should be viewed as a political and economic attack on those people. There is no entitlement in wanting to be able to access healthcare facilities, attend school, or get to work. If one is expected to work, ‘wherever the work is,’ one should not be actively prevented from getting to that place by the municipal government they happen to be governed by. Rather than simply shifting tax burdens onto the poor through usury and personal taxation, these municipal governments should start fairly taxing real estate developers and other rarely taxed, yet highly profitable, industries operating within their jurisdiction.

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