15 reasons to vote Yes in the transit plebiscite

Dec 19 2017, 2:18 pm

If you’re stuck on the fence and don’t know which way to cast your vote, here are 15 reasons to vote Yes in the upcoming transit plebiscite.

1. This is not a vote on TransLink

Don’t vote with your heart and emotions based on rhetoric. Look at the facts for yourself, with proper context.

The right-wing Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation wants you to believe this is a referendum over TransLink’s performance. In reality, a No vote will be a rejection to much-needed transit expansion and there will be dire economic consequences to come should voters choose this path.

2. The ultimate transit network

The proposed public transit improvements will revolutionize how Metro Vancouver residents get around the region.

As the transit network expands its geographical coverage and becomes faster and more frequent, the usability and efficiency of the region’s transit network will grow exponentially.

3. More room on SkyTrain

The Expo, Millennium and Canada lines will be less packed going downtown with 220 new and additional train cars – a service increase of over 50 per cent more on the SkyTrain system.

SkyTrain stations will also be upgraded and escalators added for passenger accessibility, comfort and convenience.

4. More frequent bus service—where and when you need it

Vote “yes” to reduce crowding on board your bus with more frequent buses, expanded hours and new buses. Services will be increased to every 15 minutes or more frequent all day long.

The Mayors’ Plan will add service to busy routes across the region. In Vancouver, this includes corridors such as West 4th Avenue, Knight and Macdonald streets, 49th Avenue, Southeast Marine Drive, Granville Street and Kingsway.

Save 25 minutes on the bus trip from downtown Vancouver to Lynn Valley or from Oakridge to Capilano University. In addition, there will be 30 per cent more HandyDART for riders with special mobility needs.

5. A subway for Broadway

A five-kilometre extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark SkyTrain Station to Arbutus Street, tunnelled beneath the busy Broadway corridor, will benefit not only Vancouver residents but also those throughout the entire region who go to the school, shops and services on North America’s busiest bus route.

A “yes” vote will make transit travel from Commercial Drive to Arbutus 50 per cent faster and reduce congestion in the corridor. The second phase of the project will bring the subway all the way to UBC.

The construction of the Broadway Subway is equivalent to the capacity of building 20 lanes of road. Imagine being able to travel from UBC to Commercial Drive in just 20 minutes.

The Central Broadway Corridor is the region’s second largest employment area after the downtown Vancouver peninsula. If the Broadway Subway to UBC were to open in 2021, after six years of continued ridership growth and the completion of the Evergreen Line, ridership forecasts indicate it will draw 250,000 trips on its first day of operations.

6. Light rail transit for Surrey

A light rail transit network will be built in Surrey to complement the existing Expo Line and the new and improved bus routes that are part of the Mayors’ Council plan.

The City of Surrey is proposing 27 kilometres of light rail transit along two routes:

  • King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue to connect Guildford Town Centre, Surrey City Centre, and Newton Town Centre
  • Fraser Highway to connect Surrey City Centre with Fleetwood Town Centre, Clayton, and Langley

With a “yes” vote, there will be a transit infrastructure revolution south of the Fraser in Surrey – the region’s second largest city and fastest growing municipal jurisdiction.

7. Better roads for better movement

Vote “yes” for road investments to ensure people, goods and services move efficiently, while improving safety and connectivity. The Mayors’ Plan will quadruple the region’s investment in maintaining and upgrading major roads over the next 10 years.

For example, upgrades will make traveling from Oakridge to Guildford 20 minutes faster.

8. A SeaBus every 10 minutes during rush hours

Never wait 29 minutes again with an increase in SeaBus frequency to every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes throughout the rest of the day, every day of the week.

A “yes” vote will add 50 per cent more SeaBus service, meaning fewer cars on the bridges and an easier commute for everyone, whether you’re on the road or on the water.

9. An expanded network of B-Line rapid bus routes

A “yes” vote will bring B-Line rapid bus service to five transit routes across the city, with connections to the rest of the region. B-Line rapid bus routes offer fast, frequent, limited-stop service throughout the entire day.

11 new B-Line routes, spanning a total of 200 kilometres, will speed your trip along routes such as:

  • along Hastings Street from downtown to SFU, shaving 15 minutes off the trip
  • along Commercial and Victoria Drive
  • from downtown to North Vancouver via the Lions Gate Bridge
  • along 41st Avenue from UBC to Joyce-Collingwood Station
  • through Southeast Vancouver connecting Metrotown and Richmond
  • from Capilano University to Metrotown via the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge
  • from Coquitlam to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge via Lougheed Highway
  • along Scott Road and 72nd Avenue to connect Scott Road SkyTrain Station with Scottsdale and Newton
  • an extension of the existing 96 B-Line to Semiahmoo/White Rock Centre via King George Boulevard and 152 Street

10. A new Pattullo Bridge

A “yes” vote will help fund the much-needed replacement of the aging Pattullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey. The 1937-built structure has been deemed a major hazard during a seismic event.

The replacement of the Pattullo Bridge will make the crossing safe to use for generations to come.

11. Safer walking and cycling for you and your family

Vote “yes” for investments in walking access to transit, improving safety for you and your family as you get around town. The Mayors’ Plan will deliver sidewalk and street improvements near bus stops and train stations, making it easier to walk or cycle to transit.

12. Less hassle getting around late night

With a “yes” vote, the Mayors’ Plan will add 80 per cent more NightBus service. In Vancouver, that means shift workers, those travelling to Vancouver International Airport in the early morning hours and visitors to entertainment districts will feel more comfortable and safer with a convenient way to get around and get home.

13. The reality of voting no will be much scarier than a slight increase of 0.5 per cent in the sales tax

A “No” vote could delay urgently needed transportation infrastructure improvements by a decade or more, causing congestion to rise and commute times to soar.

A 0.5 per cent increase (boosting the provincial sales tax from 7 per cent to 7.5 per cent) will only be a nominal $125 annual increase in sales taxes for the average household.

In Washington State, a similar regional proposal was proposed to the state’s taxpayers. However, it was rejected and the transit operators were forced to reduce service levels by 25 per cent on certain routes.

If you happen to be a driver and are against an increase in funding for transit improvements and expansion, consider the following: The roads you drive on would be much more congested if it were not for the 1.2 million trips made everyday in this region on buses, trains, and ferries.

14. The decision we made in the 1970s

Our local leaders in the 1970s made a decision to not proceed with a plan to build a highway system that criss-crosses Metro Vancouver region, particularly the City of Vancouver. This is why Vancouver is the only major city in North America without a highway system running through it.

The plan in the 1970s includes highway routes running along West 4th Avenue, Granville Street, the Central Waterfront in downtown and False Creek.

In lieu of major freeways, we committed to building a comprehensive transit network that replicates the transportation capacity of a freeway system.

15. The myth that TransLink can pay for transit expansion with existing funds

The amount of ‘waste’ compiled by the No Transit Tax campaign, led by the Saskatchewan-based Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, amounts to only $1.872 million out of TransLink’s $1.43 billion budget to maintain and operate the region’s roads and transit systems.

That means the No side’s arguments of excessive executive pay and wasteful spending (on items such as a $30,000 SFU Gondola study and TV screen glitches at SkyTrain stations) totals to just 0.13 per cent of the agency’s budget.

There have been multiple reviews of TransLink’s expenses in recent years, including an independent study commissioned by the TransLink commissioner and another study by the B.C. government’s Ministry of Finance. These 2012 reviews led TransLink to trim its budget by $26 million in the subsequent fiscal year.

In summary, the No side’s wasteful spending items are a drop in the bucket to the $7.5 billion needed to complete the Mayors’ Plan. TransLink has already identified its efficiencies, and there is simply not much else that can be trimmed.

Siphoning revenues from municipal governments are not an option either: Any growth in municipal government revenues from increases in population and business activity needs to go towards providing a proportional increase in city services.

Furthermore, all funds raised by the 0.5 per cent regional sales tax increase will be managed by the provincial government and solely used to implement the $7.5 billion Mayors’ Council transportation plan. A volunteer-based Public Accountability Committee, led by local businessman Jim Pattison, will oversee the funds collected.

In summary

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DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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