July 3, 2015

Blowing up TransLink for fun and recrimination

Jarrett Walker wonders if it’s possible anymore for Vancouver to have a reality-based conversation about transportation.

Here are his post- referendum thoughts. Long – but worth it. Here’s the original.


Hating your transit agency won’t make it better.


Metro Vancouver has now reached the climax of an orchestrated orgy of rage directed at its transit agency, TransLink. Over 60% of voters have rejected a sales tax increase for urgently needed transit growth, largely due to an effective campaign that made the transit agency’s alleged incompetence the issue.


There’s just one problem. TransLink is (or was) one of North America’s most effective transit agencies. Parts of the agency had made mistakes, and the governance was dysfunctional, and of course TransLink was struggling to meet exploding demand in one of the world’s most desirable metro areas.


But TransLink is, or was, an effective network, run by a reasonably efficient agency. For years I cited it all over the world as a model for good planning. Whether it remains that depends on how much of it is now destroyed in the thrill of recrimination.

Admittedly, I have a personal angle on this, because I worked inside TransLink’s planning department for two long stints, for a year in 2005-6 and for six months in 2011. (I have assisted them as a consultant since, but I have no contracts with TransLink now and no expectation of one.) It was, I thought, an unusually forward-thinking and principle-driven transit planning department. I assumed this was an expression of Metro Vancouver’s unusual culture of intentional, strategic, controlled urban development. It also reflected an era of leadership that created the space for these thoughts to occur, as opposed to the crisis-by-crisis lifestyle that too often prevails in transit management.


The conversations that were happening at TransLink — especially about the difficult question of how a regional transit agency can form a reality-based relationship with its constituent cities — were extremely sophisticated and respectful. How should a large regional agency interact with city governments when it holds the technical expertise about transit that city governments mostly lack. For example, when a city government demands something that is geometrically impossible, how can the transit agency’s response avoid appearing overbearing? Much of what I now know about this relationship, and the unavoidable forces operating on it, I figured out while helping with policy development there.

Today, those issues are at the core of my practice, as the relationship between city governments and transit authorities becomes an urgent issue almost everywhere.

Special-purpose regional governments are vulnerable creatures. The marquee leaders of an urban region — usually major mayors and state/province leaders — influence them but don’t control them directly enough to feel responsible for them. Blame is easily shifted to them by the more powerful governments all around them.


All this is even more true when the product is transit, for four reasons.

First, transit somehow looks easy, in a way that water and power and regional land use planning do not. Many reporters have no factual frame for thinking about transit, and treat anyone with a complaint, or anyone with a simplistic answer, as an expert. (Tip: my book can help provide that frame.)

Second, transit’s success is utterly dependent on municipal actions around land use and road design, so regional transit agencies that are thinking strategically must form an interest in those municipal decisions. This is easily characterized as interference with municipal sovereignty. (I always advise transit agencies to respect local right to make decisions but to clearly describe the transit consequences of those decisions, in advance.)

Third, everyone is now screaming at transit agencies to innovate, and yet voters have zero tolerance for risk. Some of TransLink’s failures are arguably innovations that didn’t work out. If you expect everything your agency does to be successful, then quit asking them to innovate, because risk is intrinsic to innovation.

Fourth, transit, when considered in isolation as in Metro Vancouver’s referendum, cannot avoid generating a ferocious difference in opinion across different parts of an urban region. In any region, maps of votes on transit referenda are mostly maps of residential density (Vancouver, Seattle), and for good reason. Transit demand rises exponentially with density: doubling density makes it more than twice as urgent. So of course the average core city dweller views transit as existential while the average outer-suburbanite on a cul-de-sac views it as unimportant. Giant regional transit agencies will continue to be pulled apart by these forces until we stop having regional transit debates and start having regional transportation debates. (The other important trend, in response to this basic math, is that core cities must exert more leadership, and funding, on their own transit issues. More on that below.)

What is amazing, then, is not that regional transit agencies are having political problems, but that so many of them are doing so well, considering. Many regions are moving forward with strong regional transit strategies, supported by working majorities of voters. Many are also making tough choices, like the painful shift in priorities that underlies Houston’s new network.

Hating your transit agency is easy and fun. You don’t have to understand your regional politics, in which the big powers to fix transit are usually not at the transit agency. You can also have the thrill of blowing up a big institutional edifice, as Metro Vancouver voters have probably now done in “rejecting” TransLink.

But a lot that’s good will also be destroyed. In Metro Vancouver, amid all the recriminations, TransLink has lost the credibility it needs to lead reality-based conversations about transit. Maybe some other agency will step into that role. (Indeed, core cities for whom transit is an existential issue must develop that capability.) Or maybe there will just be many more years of blame shifting among the elected officials who really control transit in the region.

If you look at transit from the point of view of a state or province leader, you can understand why so many politicians are terrified of the issue. Everyone is screaming at them about it, pushing simplistic solutions, and the issue is polarizing on urban-suburban lines. Some huge problems, like equipment failures due to deferred maintenance, are curses laid upon us all by our parents’ generation. What’s more, most elite leaders are motorists, and need help finding their feet in the geometric facts of transit where a motorists’ assumptions lead them astray. So they panic, shift blame, and leave transit agencies appearing to have more power to solve problems than they actually have. If you’ve never been a political leader, don’t be sure you wouldn’t do the same in their place.

Be patient. Breathe. Resist the desire to just see your transit agency in smoldering ruins. Then, demand leadership. Demand state/provincial leadership that looks for solutions instead of pointlessly stoking urban-suburban conflict. (One possible solution is to spend more time on regional transportation debates instead of just transit debates, because regional transportation plans can look more balanced than transit plans can.) And yes, if your transit agency is being given dysfunctional direction by the region’s leaders, demand a better system with more accountability to an elected official who will have to answer for outcomes.

Finally, if you live in a major city that cares about transit, demand that your city leaders look beyond blaming the transit agency, and that they do everything they can themselves to make their transit better. Remember, your city government, through its powers of land use planning and street design, controls transit at least as much as the transit agency does. Ask them: What is their transit plan? Tell them to follow the work of cities that are investing in transit themselves, beyond what their transit agency can afford, like Seattle and Washington DC., or for that matter transit-ambitious secondary cities like Bellevue, Washington, who have their own transit plans to guide the city’s work. No regional or state transit authority — beholden to state or regionwide government that is dominated by less urban interests — is going to meet all of the transit needs of a dense, core city that has chosen to make transit a foundation of its livability. Their staff may well be doing what they can with the direction that they have, but they need your city government’s active support, involvement, leadership, and investment.

Sorry, transit is complicated. It’s fun to blow things up, as Metro Vancouver’s voters probably have. But the solutions are out there, if we all demand leadership, and offer it.

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


  1. Jarret Walker is so intelligent and sensible and connected to reality that many will not listen. They’re more interested in having an enemy instead of solving problems and living well.
    But fortunately enough listen to him that some good stuff happens.
    As for us here, in this post-plebiscite area, what are we going to do now? Should we just work towards what is needed regardless? Should we work towards analyzing the CTF and find out who’s behind them? While we’re at it, should we also see just who’s behind the mainstream media and why they continue to frame things against our own best interests?
    But don’t get me started…

  2. Surprise. No one talks about costs of services delivery, .i.e. efficiencies. That is where the leadership needs to aim at, not just “we need more money”. Much to be saved here on the federal, provincial, municipal and TransLink level .. BILLIONS.

  3. Can someone recommend a webpage comment blocker plugin? If it could be user-specific, that would be even better.

    Personally, I’ve decided that my life is too short to read certain commentators. I love this blog, and also find many of the comments interesting, even the ones I don’t agree with. But certain comments aren’t worth my time. It’s not a matter of free speech — they can talk all they want — I just don’t want to listen.

    Broadly speaking, the type of comments not worth my time include:
    – global warming deniers (this day in age? really? No, I’m not going to be convinced to ignore 95+% of the worlds scientist by self-certain blather).
    – Linking any article, no matter how unrelated, to pet causes. e.g. Anti-unionism (classic deflection, when inequality has reached epic proportions, focus instead on an institution that has been losing influence and members for 20+years.)
    – But most of all, just repeating entirely unflexible and unchanging opinions. If, after two years or more of comments, a commentator still repeats the same things, why should I keep reading? I’ve heard it all before, it hasn’t convinced me so far and won’t in the future. It is not improving my life, my perspective of the world, or my knowledge. And because I am certain that any comments anyone else makes to counter these will not change anything, the whole comment thread becomes a farce and a bore, which is a shame since there are some very interesting comments that get lost.

    So please, if anyone knows of a user-specific comment blocker, I would be very grateful.

    1. You could try seeking a Canada Council Grant to do an academic study to try and find a plug-in. There’s always Facebook, where you chose whom to follow.

    2. Hear hear. Thomas unfortunately found this blog, I think, about a year and a half ago and has been repeating his bable ever since. I remember his first day on here when the Recent Comments section in the top right corner had his name 12 times in a row and he was commenting on blog entries 2 years previous. Strange very strange.

      Then you have Eric, a person who I believe jumped on here 8 months back just to stir the pot and piss everyone off. Its great to have a differing option, makes for good debate, but you have to wonder about the Psyche of a person who disagrees with everything posted on this blog and all the commentators. I mean, why would you waste so much time on a blog that you have zero in common with? Who does that? Strange very strange.

      1. thanks. i was looking for something commentor-specific, but I might have to resort to something global like this.

    1. Posters with differing opinions are valuable, both for learning from and for sharpening debating skills.

      Trolls are just……trolls.

      1. I note your opinion that people with different views than yours are strange, or trolls.

        I humbly like to state that only in sharing, or explaining, our different worldview can we move forward as (hu/wo)mankind. Cities are comprised of people of different background, different ages, different income brackets, different cultural background, different values, different personalities or different partnership arrangements as such will differ on complex issues such as transit, marriage, taxation levels, pay scales, urban form, density or land values.

        One size does not fit all. Not all transit is doable by bike or on a bus. Some folks prefer cars, subways or pickup trucks.

        Any discussion, be it in person or more indirect such as this blog benefits from different perspectives. We can all learn from each other.

        Some actually opening state their name or link to their Facebook page while others hide behind an anonymous name. I trust you appreciate my honesty and candor, even if it offends you or disagrees with your worldview.

        I thank you for your view points.

        1. Tommy, it isn’t your opinions that irk people, for the most part they are easily discarded as non-starters, simplistic, and poorly founded in reality. It’s actually more like keeping a toddler at distance with an outstretched arm. What bothers people is that you are repeatedly confronted with the reasons why most of your suggestions aren’t feasible and you refuse to engage in that conversation. You continue beating the same drum and nothing changes. It quickly becomes boring, and your comments start to resemble the wallpaper.

          If you’d like this dynamic to change I would suggest you stop talking about $200 street parking, increasing transit fares on seniors, and racing public and private sector workers into the wage floor. At least that would be a start. I’d think you’d find people would be really interested in having an in-depth conversation with you about the limits of what mobility pricing could deliver to the region.

          Noodle it a bit 🙂

        2. Also in Europe I see almost no pickup trucks or SUVs. If you design and tax things accordingly peoples choices change very quickly.

      2. Thomas, I don’t have the opinion that people with different views are strange, or trolls. I have the opinion that people who post off topic comments and disrupt other conversations exhibit trollish behaviour.

        The original article in this thread was about people complaining about Translink, while ignoring the efficiencies (paragraphs 3 and 4). There is good data publicly available on those efficiencies. If you don’t agree with those efficiency claims, post some data that disputes them. Cost per km, cost per passenger, things like that. But to start your post with the claim that nobody talks about the efficiencies is surprising.

  4. Public opinion is force to be reckoned with. Translink was the focus of intense hatred long before this referendum. This vote teaches us that if you ignore intense negative feelings of voters, they will punish you, regardless of how virtuous your project or institution is.

    Translink is toxic. Why did Christy Clark create this calamitous exercise in the first place, if not because it was too hot for her to touch directly. Yes, it was a foolish, cowardly act on her part, but the unpopularity of Translink was already in place well before she came into office.

    So, the real question is, why has Translink been so woefully ineffective in proving it’s virtues to the public, not only during the referendum period, but over the last few years? Are their critics right? Were they just incompetent in rebutting the critics? Were their hands tied by poor direction from the top?

    Whether it’s the efficiency of a transit company, or the effectiveness of vaccines, whether it’s climate change or evolution, you cannot ignore the attitudes and opinions of the public. We live in the information age and we need robust communicators to fight the public relations battles against people who are low on facts but high on rhetoric. Otherwise rhetoric wins and we all suffer.

    1. The way that I see it is that Translink could have diverted millions of dollars towards its communications department and toward outside contractors of that ilk and fight this battle, or it could have just used that money on moving people around. Considering the multi-millions in efficiencies it has found in the last few years and the positive independent audits, it’s pretty clear they’ve done the latter.

      I agree with you that effective communication is important, considering their purse is in the jaws of the self-righteous tax protesting public. I just think it reveals the monkey nature of our brains when confronted with non-intuitive thinking. It makes me sad

      1. It makes me sad too. I had friends, who were planning on voting No, tell me that they liked the plan. They just didn’t trust Translink. When asked why they didn’t trust them, they didn’t really have a good answer and nothing based in fact or evidence. I interpreted it all to be just an emotional reaction against the fact that the world is not the same as it once was and that nothing is as affordable as it once was either. They just were reacting in the hope that something could be done to make it how it used to be. I see that voting Yes was kind of like that too. As a way to make the new world we’re in better than it is now.

        So where do we go from here?

        1. We might start by trying get a substantial discount and refund from the marketing and communications specialists and firms that were hired by the Mayors Council.

        2. Eric, everyone who voted no denied the region $500M a year in funding from other British Columbians and Canadians to improve our infrastructure. I certainly feel robbed, you should too, If the no group figures out how to get that money for us we can start talking about the promotional budget for the yes campaign. Until that point you’re welcome to suck on traffic fumes.

          1. Surrey is moving on with light rail with federal and provincial funding.

            The plebiscite showed that many people feel robbed already and now they hope to be robbed less.

            More of those diesel buses that TransLink loves will be purchased. More fumes.

  5. Partly. The article is partly about efficiencies at TransLink, it’s also about the region. It might be an idea to consider the region in a few contexts. Why is it that the farthest places from Vancouver voted so overwhelmingly against the proposal? Langley, both City and Township, Richmond, Delta, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge clocked in at 77% No.

    The lead for the plebiscite was Gregor Robertson of Vancouver. He’s best know in the outer region as the bike rider, both he and his ex-wife, who places as the priority a subway extension under Broadway in Vancouver. This is clearly not a priority for two thirds of those in the outer areas of the region.

    With a bit more prodding Gregor could possibly win over a few thousand more Vancouver citizens and thereby squeeze out a tiny majority in his own municipality but under the proposal presented, the rest of the region is not interested.

    It’s difficult to imagine that it was all about money. Were people really excited enough to get out and vote in far greater numbers than in municipal elections all over one half of one percent on purchases? It was about the plan and about TransLink and that means it was about what people would receive in return. People don’t get excited about a new bus route when it’s not outside their door. Just take a look, any day you like, at the big Park-and-Ride second parking lot TransLink built at the Highway 99 and King George intersection. It is only ever used for driver training. Nobody ever actually parks there and crosses King George Highway to get on a bus for a nice ride through the massive ALR to the top of Richmond.

    It’s understandable that rapid rail to Delta, Langley and the other outer reaches of Metro is impractical due to the extended distances across to the other sides of the ALR and the low population densities but it’s only fast rail that would excite people. It seems inconceivable that an extension of the Vancouver subway system to North Vancouver was not proposed in the recent plan. How on ever did the planners expect to secure Yes votes by simply promising a more frequent passenger ferry?

    If there really was what’s called and ‘effective’ campaign calling TransLink incompetent then this was a snowball that grew into an avalanche. The Yes side spent one hundred and fifty times the money that the No side did. This will surely be a text book study in how to win a public opinion campaign with almost no money. This was the Jamaica Bobsled Team winning the Gold!

  6. Jarred’s description of the ‘No’ side’s “position” as an orgy of rage is dead-on correct. Nobody who criticized Translink’s supposed governing incompetence knows the first thing about transit governance or what separates good transit service from bad. They’re just angry at the thought of directly paying for something they don’t think they benefit from.

    They’re all wrong, of course. Suburban motorists benefit a great deal from transit and the next time Translink goes on strike, the sudden removal of these benefits will become dramatically obvious. As it stands now that common sense has lost to Ford Nation, the angry and entitled suburban motorists who voted No will simply see their precious car commutes slowly get longer. In a just and sensible world, they’d have nobody to blame for their increased traffic other than themselves.

    But this world is neither of those things. Surrey and Delta and Langley will hold their breath and threaten to take their toys home with them unless the region forks over hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new roads to shave a few seconds off the driving commutes they actively voted to preserve. They’ll probably get them – bonded with tolls.

  7. Hmm, I think the superior, holier-than-thou attitude of the yes side didn’t help win any votes for their cause. Dan, insulting the people whose support you need to implement any future transit plans isn’t the best way forward… Besides, the residents of Vancouver voted No too…

    Maybe, just maybe, the plan, the proposal, the attitude of the Yes side had something to do with the defeat…

    1. Just amazed at the Hypocrisy with the suburban No side supporters who don’t question the Port Mann and the new Massey Bridge, 5 new lanes of traffic to stop at 70th & Oak. TOTAL Brainwashing

      1. You are right, building more tunnels at major intersections on Oak AND Granville and removing free parking is in order. Perhaps the useless anti-car campaign by the socialist mayor G Robertson angered enough folks, even in Vancouver, to vote “no”. A necessary but very expensive subway on Broadway, paid for by everyone didn’t sit too well with suburbians.

        We not only need more transit, especially RAPID transit (sadly missing in this plan) but also better road capacity, and not an artificial constraint, by, for example, allowing parking, for free, on major throughroads.

          1. I’ve got to hand it to you there Thomas. The CoV loves pointless parking on arterials.

            I used to counterflow commute on Powell St. There would be a few parked cars on the street causing a fair bit of congestion. All it took was a single car parked near an intersection with a left turner or two in queue. Tonnes on Canucks or Lions game days.

            It made no at all sense though, all the businesses there have surface lots. That drove me crazy. For 5 or 10 parked cars in 6 blocks, easily over a hundred cars would be stuck waiting.

    2. If the ‘thou’ of which you speak are those who voted against the very idea of public transit (and that’s precisely what they did), then those who voted Yes are in fact holier. If some people are insecure about being wrong and then being called out on it, then they shouldn’t be wrong in the first place. Don’t hate the messenger.

  8. Robloglob and Adanac – I agree it’s sad. You should be able to say “We’ve found efficiencies!” “Audits are glowing!” “Our system is actually one of the best in the world!” …And people should hear these things. But, for whatever reason, it hasn’t made a dent in the public mindset. I don’t know the reasons for this and the deafness of the public to the facts has been disappointing. But it’s worth investigating… It’s not good enough to blame the public for not “getting it.”

    Having said that, I don’t think No voters were necessarily misinformed. I think many resented being asked for more money when existing provincial dollars can be allocated to fund transit, by not building that silly bridge to Delta for example. It IS possible to be a No voter and be pro-transit.

    Speaking of silly bridges, how come the evolving fiasco of the over-built, over-priced Port Mann bridge hasn’t caught fire with the public and the media? I think it’s on par with the Fast Cat Ferries, but no one seems to care! What is that?!

    1. Adam, I think that resentment is symptomatic of being poorly informed. When all the dimes are stacked and counted those who drive cars end up being nannied by the state to do so.


      In addition to just not taking the time to educate themselves on the above, when people are eventually confronted with this information it doesn’t go well. Nobody likes being told they aren’t as positive a force in their communities as they have previously thought.. It’s hard to hear and even more difficult to take action to rectify. However, if they scream loud and long enough they’ll be able to drown out the logic and get back to truck nutz. Sweet nutty nutz.

      If the fight is to stop this current course of infrastructure generally, the time to do that is when the government is up for election in 2017, but I don’t think that’s the case. No is a big basket and it captures all folks who disagreed with the transit investments (what I like to call legitimate no’s) all the way down to Translink as a manifestation of the socialist devil (you know, the type of folk who you can distract by miming a ball being across a green field). That, and it’s easier to say no to things, especially when that thing is a tax (no matter how small or how much good it would have done).

      But now we’ll dither for many years, projects will become more expensive as we lose to opportunity and inflation costs, all so people could get a quick jolly rubbing their schweady nutz.

    1. yes, road pricing makes far more sense to fund better road and better transit than a tax on good or properties. We need a carrot and a stick to improve transit.

      Carrot: more rapid transit, faster than a car.
      Stick: make car use more expensive, in both its states: parking and driving. Both states today are far too cheap with more and more fuel efficient, hybrid, small or electric cars, rendering a fuel tax useless on short distances. But a road toll, based on distance and price of day, will disincent car use, and fund alternative modes of transportation. Ditto on parking: why can you park your vehicle for free, in front of your apartment building or house, on a road you do not own ? What is the incentive to go down for 3 to 2 cars if parking is free ? Many folks convert a double garage in the yard into a suite, and then export their parking needs onto the public realm.

      1. “Ditto on parking: why can you park your vehicle for free, in front of your apartment building or house, on a road you do not own ? What is the incentive to go down for 3 to 2 cars if parking is free ?”

        Good Point, I agree with you on this one

      2. Road pricing was just defeated in case you hadn’t noticed!

        Rapid transit is never faster than a car!

        Disincent is not a word.

        The taxpayer already owns the road! That is why it is free to use!

        Parking will never be a consideration when buying a car.

        1. If we own the road, why do we have to charge nothing to all the people outside of my municipality? I don’t want to give it away for free so they can pollute in front of where I live and work.

        2. Far from being defeated, road pricing (which was not on the ballot) may end up as the most likely funding option. Hopefully sooner instead of later.

          This illustrates a problem that arose when some on the No side defined the vote as other than a sales tax referendum.

        3. If the municipalities get road pricing then a no vote will not be so terrible. I have my doubts though, the political incentive for the province to do nothing is high.

  9. There’s an interesting conspiracy theory making the rounds, to wit: The proposed UBC skytrain was really more about opening more land for densification and condo development than actually getting people to UBC. The thing that makes this hold water is the fact that the line was initially only going to be built to some yet undetermined spot, and buses would bridge the gap to UBC. This got me thinking about the recent sale of the Jericho lands, and how the huge potential of that site could only be realized with access to rapid transit. Apparently, there are some people who voted no in the recent plebiscite because they didn’t trust Mayor Moonbeam and his developer buddies, more than anything about Translink.

    1. The plan in the plebiscite was to end at arbutus, so you would need a bus bridge Jericho as well. This conspiracy does not hold water

    2. Poppycock.

      Here is a link to a report that outlines why the Broadway-UBC corridor is ripe for a subway even without future development. The research was conducted by KPMG and is filled with lots of data and references.

      Key to the justification is the corridor’s high standing in town centre employment density (27% of the town centre jobs in the region), second only to downtown (41%). Richmond Centre is second (6%) with Surrey Centre – the downtown of BC’s second largest city – ringing in at only 3% of the region’s largest nodes of employment.

      Next is residential where Broadway-UBC has 17% of the town centre population of the region, second again to downtown at 26%. Richmond Centre follows at 12% with Surrey Centre at a pitiful 5%. The bulk of Surrey’s residential development occurs in sprawling subdivisions that would be poorly served by any transit, let alone rapid transit.

      Moreover, in 2012 Broadway-UBC contained almost 30 million ft2 of office/commercial floor space with residential more than twice that much.

      There is a clear and unassailable demand for the Broadway subway.

      1. MB – Building a subway through very low density leafy-and-loving-it West Point Grey, a golf course and an 8-month long term university doesn’t make a lot sense to me. But relocating UBC-bound bus ridership from the hyper-congested Broadway/Commercial area to a terminus at Arbutus certainly does.

  10. Jeff is trying to be clever when he suggests that road pricing was not on the ballot. Yes, it was. The ballot clearly stated that this was a yes, or a, no to the Mayors’ Plan based on a regional increase in the sales tax and the plans in the supporting documents. In those documents road pricing was repeatedly mentioned.

    You can be certain that if the vote had gone the other way Jeff would be pointing out this and the 2,300 km of bike paths, that were also in the rejected plan.

    1. It isn’t a matter of being clever, it is a matter of reading comprehension, something that appears to be lacking in some parts.

      The question was, did we support a new tax, in support of a specific plan. Check the ballot. Turns out, collectively we didn’t. That doesnt mean the plan was voted down, just the tax. No doubt the plan and timeline will have to be revamped to match available funding. But the mention of some item in the plan doesn’t mean that option is blackballed now.

      I am sure some did vote No because of some details of the plan. But this was exactly the problem the No side was going to face, many No votes were for very different reasons. They can’t all be happy now, because they were voting for different things. I think it was Pete M who wrote on this in the Sun.

      1. No doubt the plan will have to be revamped. To fit voters desires. Anything less will place the mayor’s jobs in jeopardy.

        What those desires are will need to be determined but any assumptions that the public want what was in the details of the plan presented and voted down is arrogant presumption and contrary to the result.

        Denial of failure by insisting on practices or ideas that did not work or have been democratically rejected is not unusual. Often people have to descend to the bottom before they face the reality of their failures and mistakes.

        The arrogance of some of the proponents on the yes side is to be expected. A general refusal to respect the will of the majority could endure for months. The longer they pretend that their ideas must still prevail while ignoring the fact of their being defeated, the less chance they will have in succeeding.

        Nobody on the no side has said that they do not support efficient transit. This positive attitude, while accepting that the Mayors’ Plan has been resoundingly rejected, is the only real way forward.

        Things are not just as they were last month. It was all about TransLink and it was all about the Plan. A complete rewrite is imperative,

        1. Eric,

          I concur. For anyone to presume to speak for all the successful “No” voters and specify just one reason for the “No” vote, such as merely a rejection of an extra tax, is irritatingly obtuse and domineeringly dismissive. There were a myriad of reasons just as there was a great diversity among voters. Moreover, all “No” voters knew that their vote would reject both the sales tax increase and the plans as provided to voters. They also knew that Translink would bear some of the blame for the rejection. It is fascinating to me that the “Yes” side advocates simply will not accept that the public has made its wishes clearly and definitively known; “Yes” campaigners are still trying to flog their dead horse. Indeed, they are discussing yet another referendum because they think the public got it wrong. How insulting!

        2. I don’t get how those who saw a real and serious need for more HandiDart service are now “flogging a dead horse” in their expression of disappointment on the vote that could have provided it.

          1. You are suggesting that because of the “No” vote, transportation services will not be improved ever; what utter nonsense. There may or may not be any delays in improvements due to the “No” vote, and changes have to and will be made once the funding and management debacle is sorted out. If HandiDart warrants advancement, it will happen in due course.

    2. Jeff is right.

      (and I wish he is also right on the view that the No can accelerate road pricing introduction)

      Regarding financing, the Mayors’ plan could have mentioned road pricing, like it was mentioning carbon tax, but as a matter of fact, the financing part of the plan was looking like it:


      so the plan was promising nothing regarding road pricing…

      It was in fact a great weakness of the Mayors’ proposal, and dare I say insulting to the voter, to present a plan without proper financial figures based on the tax effectively submitted to plebisicite…but that is another story

      1. Voony, I also thought it was painful that the financials were not fully outlined in the plan (and I think bar foo had similar concerns), but two thoughts:

        1. Remember that the plan, as it was being put together, was operating on the assumption that the major funding sources would either be a vehicle fee or a regional carbon tax initially, with the potential for road pricing at some future point. It was only after the majority of the financial work had been undertaken that the Province dictated that sales tax was the revenue source on the table [also interesting that the Provincial Liberals would choose a revenue source that wasn’t initially discussed, but was similar to one subject to public referenda in the Province several years earlier (HST) and defeated cleanly]. Not a defense of half-completed financial forecasts, but important to keep in mind the challenges of forecasting a brand new revenue source conservatively when you are given virtually no time.

        2. The photo that you attached doesn’t actually address the financing of the Mayor’s plan….in fact, it’s even more damning for the region. Since the plan committed to spend the sales tax on new infrastructure and buses [predominantly capital investment], it would have done nothing to address the underlying operating cost gap outlined in your attachment. With or without new infrastructure growth, that structural operating deficit needs to be resolved, either through additional, consistent operating funds [hard sales pitch telling someone they pay more for the same thing], or through cost cutting/slow service reduction [with inflation at/below 2% and no new service growth, I’m surprised that cost escalation is 7% annually. Seems high].

        Quite honestly, I would suggest addressing that operating cost/revenue gap before ever going back to the public for new infrastructure, otherwise the common view will be “they’re promising more investment with my taxes/fees, but it will actually just be used to plug another budget hole”….which is quite likely, if that structural gap remains unaddressed.

  11. “I concur. For anyone to presume to speak for all the successful “No” voters and specify just one reason for the “No” vote, such as merely a rejection of an extra tax, is irritatingly obtuse and domineeringly dismissive. There were a myriad of reasons just as there was a great diversity among voters. Moreover, all “No” voters knew that their vote would reject both the sales tax increase and the plans as provided to voters. They also knew that Translink would bear some of the blame for the rejection.”

    So, it’s irritatingly obtuse and domineeringly dismissive to presume to speak for the voters, which you then successfully do in your very next sentences. Got it.

    1. Don,

      Just the opposite: “Myriad” means “many” and “diverse.” The only presumption of mine is that many people means many reasons for the “No” vote. I would never presume to narrow done human diversity to only one explanation for the “No” vote. I am not speaking for anyone, just acknowledging the obvious abundance of reasons. Logic, not presumption, determines multiple reasons for multiple people.

Subscribe to Viewpoint Vancouver

Get breaking news and fresh views, direct to your inbox.

Join 7,313 other subscribers

Show your Support

Check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more – or, make a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles