Three former youths in care ask TransLink to give teens free rides

Three former youths in care ask TransLink to give teens free rides

Having aged out of government, they say fines from childhood have ruined their independence

Walking alone in the dark.

Missing out on school.

Too scared to ask their foster parents for money.

Those were just some what youth in care say they experience when they can’t afford to take the bus to go to school or work, according to three women who have aged out of the system.

The trio were at a TransLink meeting Thursday as part of a campaign asking for free transit for kids and teens, as well as loan forgiveness for those who accumulated fines they got as children.

Ashley Crossan said transit fines have “have ruined my life.”

She aged out of care several years ago with little support and less money.

“Taking transit was very unaffordable, meaning that I had to hop onto the SkyTrain or take the 99 B-Line for free to get to necessary appointments,” she said. “Sometimes I would get stopped by Transit Police and issued a $167 fine.”

Crossan couldn’t pay the fine, nor the overdue fees.

“So it went to the collections. Now because of that, my credit rating is poor, which doesn’t allow me to apply for a credit card to build it back up. It doesn’t allow me to get a cell phone and I can’t get my driver’s licence.”

She asked the board to bring in a sliding scale for youth and low-income people so that they can take transit without incurring fines.

Cheylene Moon told the board about how, as a teen, she would walk for an hour each way to get to school because she was too scared to ask her foster parents for bus fare.

“One time, I made it halfway to my house and it was raining and I was cold and hungry,” said Moon. “I had to find an undercover area to spend the night.”

Speaking after the meeting, 25-year-old Breezy Hartley – a former foster child – said that something needed to change.

“The system depends on having parents that care about you,” said Hartley. “[Being able to take the bus] would give them no unconditional love. Like hey, no matter what, your basic needs are being met because we care about you.

“Before I went to foster care, if I upset my mom… then I wouldn’t get a ticket home.”

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said the transit authority was speaking to the provincial government about free transit for youth and that the issue had come up during a fare review.

READ MORE: TransLink mulls distance-based fares, low-income discounts

“However, we are a transit provider, we are not a social services provider,” said Desmond. “Further discounts… would reduce our fare revenue, and our mission is to ensure we are providing as much service as possible.”

TransLink currently gets just over 50 per cent of its revenue from fares.

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote, who sits on the regional mayors’ council on transportation, said he full supports free passes for youth.

“I think we need to find ways to remove some of the cost barriers to using public transit,” said Cote. “By investing in youth transit accessibility, you’re going to create lifelong riders.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An early morning fire forced the evacuation of a Maple Ridge apartment building on Saturday, April 3 (Deborah Hampton/Special to The News)
City of Maple Ridge thanks volunteers for response to Easter weekend blaze

Emergency Support Services volunteers stepped up to help displaced residents

A partial image from the painting Kanaka Creek by Eric Hotz, which in the exhibit at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
A Study of Nature exhibition opens at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

Eric Hotz paintings feature familiar scenes from across the Lower Mainland

Shannon Belsito took this photo on Thursday morning, indicating the true arrival of spring. “Feeling the inspiring beauty and freshness of spring with these gorgeous magnolia blossoms near Kanaka Creek that just popped after the rain.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Spring has arrived in all its splendor

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

A small memorial to Rich Goulet was started at Pitt Meadows Secondary after his recent death. (Neil Corbett/The News)
LETTER: Rename Pitt Meadows school gym in coach’s honour

Rich Goulet was considered one of the provinces best basketball coaches and died recently

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read