Bus Rider's Union: Fightin on the Front Lines

The Bus Riders Union is a local multi-racial, multi-lingual working class struggle for political and economic power. We seek to build locally-relevant militant working class struggle within a cohesive multi-racial organization led by women. We engage in daily struggle against imperialism by addressing our local context of a ghettoized, exploited, oppressed, and largely unorganized working class.

Public transit is a much overlooked but critical public service in this region; public transit is necessary for the economic, social, and political participation of thousands of marginalized and working class people in this region. As TransLink consistently diverts billions of public dollars into rail, such as the Expo, Millennium, and now the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver (RAV) line at the expense of working class communities of colour in the Lower Mainland, this is class war.

This class war is manifested when a family spends more on transportation than food, education, clothing, and health care combined; when bus riders are racially profiled, handcuffed, and physically-attacked by SkyTrain police; and when single moms are forced to choose between taking their kids to the library and buying food for dinner.

While the Olympics have been used as a leverage point to push through the RAV line, this privatization project is a part of a much broader and more sinister neoliberal agenda. The RAV line is a clear example of the voluntary application of structural adjustment (SAPs; the very same economic practices which have had devastating consequences for Third World nations) within imperialist nations for the expansion of national profits and the explicit benefit of multi-nationals. The largest Public-Private-Partnership in Canadian history is happening right under our noses! It should be alarming that all levels of government have colluded to divert $1.74 billion of public resources, including monies raised by public transit user fees (fares) towards the private profits for SNC Lavalin as it designs, builds and operates the RAV line for the next 30 years with a guaranteed profit.

The BRU response to the Olympics is our clear commitment to organize our communities to win short-term victories while also building a mass base of the working class in our region which is highly politically educated, organized, and ready to struggle for genuine social and economic justice. At the BRU we take up long-term demands which challenge capitalism to the core, and build on working class struggle in our region. We undertake a two-pronged strategy for long-term revolutionary change in an imperialist context. This strategy includes: (1) engaging in militant, mass campaigns for viable concrete gains which will immediately benefit working class communities of colour throughout the region; and (2) building new institutions of working class power which can undertake longer-term struggles of re-building the Left, training a new generation of militant multi-lingual organizers, developing leaders from working class communities, in particular working class women of colour, and through hard work and daily struggle, uniting the fractured and unorganized working class into a force to be reckoned with.

We continue to demand that TransLink cancel the RAV line and funnel this money into creating healthy working class communities by increasing bus service to alleviate ghettoization, increasing service to 24 hours to ensure equal access to our region, converting all buses to clean-air technology and making them wheelchair/ stroller accessible, scraping the racist SkyTrain police force and prioritizing women’s safety, and eliminating the arbitrary zone system and lowering the fares so public transit is accessible to all!

There is no easy victory against this imperialist system, but with every struggle, with every victory however partial, our working class communities are making history, preparing ourselves for a broader class struggle; the greater our unity and power, the closer we are to economic and social justice.

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