February 4, 2015

By Millennials, For Millennials: Reasons for Yes

A blunt-talkin’ Millennial from SFU.  Three good reasons to reprint this from Burnaby News:


7 Reasons Millennials Should Vote Yes on the Transit Referendum


Tax hike? F*ck no.  That is pretty much the central intellectual argument put forth by Jordan Bateman, and his loyal penny-pinching minion’s at the right wing think tank the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.  They cloak their general aversion to taxation of any kind, by focusing their campaign of anger on Translink and its perceived, and in some cases, real, inadequacies.   What Bateman fails to relay is that Translink is not the ballot question.  Transportation expansion, congestion reduction, and how fund to fund these goals, is.  Here are six reasons why voting yes will be in your best interest for the transit referendum.

1.     80% more night bus service

Anyone from the burbs who’s partied downtown on the weekends and missed the last Skytrain knows the night bus service is infrequent, over packed, and in desperate need of expansion.  By voting, yes, you’re also endorsing a plan by the mayor’s council to increase services by 80%.

2.     More cycling paths

For all the cycling enthusiasts, if the Yes side wins get stoked for 2700km of new bikeway paths in the Metro-Vancouver region.

3.     Reducing congestion for drivers                 

You don’t need to take public transit to feel the benefits of increased transportation options.  Increased transportation options don’t merely take people out of cars but will also relieve congestion in Metro-Vancouver by 20%.

4.     Surrey Light Rail Line

A yes vote will help ensure Surrey will receive a light rail service that will extend all the way to Langley.

5.     A Broadway Subway Line

Voting yes will green light a tunnelled sky-trainline down the Broadway corridor in Vancouver.

6.     New Pattullo Bridge

The Pattullo Bridge is rapidly deteriorating and frightening to drive on.   If the transit referendum succeeds a new bridge can begin construction.

7.     The reality of voting no will be much scarier than a slight increase of 0.5% in the sales tax 

Without necessary funding after taxpayers in Washington State rejected a similar regional proposal, their transit provider was forced to cut up to 25% of services on individual routes.

Zachary Paradis is a third-year SFU student working towards a major in Political Science and minor in Communications.

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  1. Is there evidence for point 3 – reduced congestion as I do not believe it ? It will merely not increase congestion in my opinion. The current plan is NOT BOLD ENOUGH and leave most current car drivers in their vehicles as more wobbly SLOW buses and same cheap parking rates and same cheap gasoline and same car cheap registration fees are not the answer to get folks out of their car ! They need RAPID transit .. i.e. more bus lanes or better: subways or rail links. A crucial error in the current weak transportation plan !

    1. Thomas, you need those “wobbly slow buses” to feed the rapid transit lines. Just like you need residential and intermediate streets to get your car from your garage to the arterials and the freeways. If you expand rapid transit service, you need to expand the buses as well.

      And a fast rapid transit service that runs with 2-3 minute frequencies means nothing if the bus that gets you from it to your house only runs every 30 to 60 minutes. So not only do you need the bus ROUTES, you also need a decent FREQUENCY in order to provide a viable alternative to driving.

      Sure, bus lanes are nice. But they’re primarily needed for the “arterial” bus services, not for the collector routes. And they’re not really a big-ticket item – I’d imagine that they can be funded from the road budgets of the municipalities.

    2. We can’t afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Of course the plan could be stronger and better, but voting no would take Metro Van in the exact opposite direction.

      1. This is NOT a de-congestion plan. The # of cars will remain the same or grow. It just means new people arriving plus the ones here will use more transit, stuck in traffic, but not less cars, i.e. not less congestion. It is a poor plan. Essentially a bandaid. Spending is too high in the public sector too. Much savings here to fund investments or borrowing for investments.

        More provincial cooperation with MetroVan is required, after MetroVan has demonstrated it can lower civil servants salaries & benefits and outsource far more. This morning I saw a City of Vancouver truck, fairly new, emptying city trash cans. That should be outsourced, at a 50% cost savings over the highly unionized and grossly overpaid current positions. That is just one of 100’s of examples of gross mismanagement.

        From 2005 to 2013, municipal revenues in Greater Vancouver grew from $3.6 to $5.6 billion — 55 per cent, compared to 11-per-cent growth in consumer prices. With some modest cuts here the spending can be found to fund the ENTIRE new transit plan !

        Plan B needs to be developed. The current proposal is weak. Car use will continue unabated as its use hasn’t been made far more expensive.

  2. I will vote yes because i want these expansions, BUT I think you, like most of the Yes campaign, are guilty of blindly promoting the plan. The budget is fixed. The costs won’t be. What is the plan to deal with all the cost overruns that will almost certainly arise? You have three options:

    1. Cut parts of the plan so that you can pay for the rest. We’ll get the big ticket items because that’s what wins elections and fills the pockets of construction firms and developers. My bet is that we’ll see delays and reductions to the bus service and all the other frills that make this plan so attractive to working class Vancouverites (including students).

    2. Mobility pricing, which includes toll bridges, toll roads, toll areas and raising transit fares. The projected reduction in congestion (which is a lie anyway, the plan explicitly states that there will still be more cars on the road with an increase in transit mode share) is largely based on implementing this. The compass card system is explicitly intended for this purpose. That means further shouldering working class people to pay for tax breaks for the rich that resulted in the offloading of roads and bridges to Translink in the first place. If you think Vancouver is not affordable now, just wait! It also means falling ridership (ie. more congestion, more GHG) and a more racist and sexist system that limits access for first nations, immigrants and women who are disproportionately represented among the city’s poor. This is also going to further fuel the flight to the suburbs which only creates more demand for roads and transit.

    3. Ask for further increases to the regional tax. The precedent will have been set.

    We know translink’s history. Fare increases and subsequent cuts to service in a never ending cycle. That is exactly what we will continue to get. Operating costs will continue to rise. Particularly the cost of debt servicing, projected to rise from 8% to 17% of Translink’s annual budget at the end of the initial ten year plan. If interest rates rise, which is the only direction they can really go, those interest payments will also rise.

    Then there is the problem that the densification model that this plan is designed to promote has already been driving up rents and leading to destruction of affordable housing in metrotown especially but also all along the skytrain line in Burnaby and in Coquitlam (years before the evergreen line was even completed).

    It’s looks pretty but the plan is based on exacerbating the already dramatic affordability crisis (2nd most expensive city in the world already, guess we’re aiming for number one!) and because of that will likely not produce the hoped for limits on GHG growth or congestion as the population continues to grow. We simply won’t get what we’re voting for without some kind of grassroots movement to challenge the neoliberal foundations of this plan. Voting yes means we have something to fight for but doing so uncritically won’t lead to that movement getting built.

    1. What do you suggest I’ll help affordability ? You can buy a 800-900 sq ft 2BR condo in Surrey, Burnaby or New West for below $300,000 that cost you less than $1200/month. Pretty affordable. Of course Vancouver close to the beach is more. What do you suggest, besides exmigration or more land or subsidies from others ?

    2. The bus service is always going to be the first thing axed, because it’s the largest line item in Translink’s budget, and is the very thing being subsidized. Should Light Rail get added, that ends up being subsidized as well. This is a problem.

      We already know that the Skytrain can run with only a handful of supervisors (from the BCRTC strikes.) If push comes to shove, they can put a hiring freeze on the Expo/Millenium/Evergreen line, but that’s not going to save nearly as much money as cutting 1/5th of the bus service.

      This is the great risk about P3 projects, all the costs are front-loaded, so if the ridership doesn’t show up to pay fares in, guess who’s paying for it? You are, the tax payer. We should never be considering P3 projects for rapid transit, because that ensures we get the lowest-return-on-investment. Translink could have saved a lot more money if the Canada Line wasn’t a P3 project, and was built to the same standards the rest of the Skytrain was. I think we lucked out that it wasn’t a disaster. A P3 surface-grade LRT will certainly be one. Significant destruction of Green Timbers, dozens if not hundreds of people being injured or killed every year from collisions with trains due to lack of grade-separation.

      Making everything hard to get to by not creating Rapid Transit lines, or creating inferior transit lines that you don’t want density to increase near, are both foolish ideas. Yet this exactly what is being proposed. People South of Fraser keep on saying they’re not getting their moneys worth, when they’re the ones being subsidized by not having the density required to have better transit.

      Even the broadway proposal starts looking kinda foolish by “not wanting to increase density.” You can’t have both.

      Like I just don’t get how Broadway doesn’t want denstity to increase, yet they correctly see the Skytrain as the right option for the future. Yet Surrey wants to increase density, yet wants to prevent density by picking at-grade light rail. Are these people even reading the same documents?

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