Within the next year, Metro Vancouver citizens will have the chance to vote on a new funding source to support the Mayors’ Council’s $7.5 billion vision for transportation in the region. This plan includes upgrades to services and frequency of transit, an extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus street, two light rail lines in Surrey, 11 new B-Lines, 2,700 km of bike-ways, and a replacement of the aging Pattullo bridge between Surrey and New Westminster. A “no” vote on the referendum would be devastating for the region as a whole.
In order to build new transportation projects and improve the existing network, our governments and Translink need capital. Under current circumstances, there is just not enough money for new projects. With all other funding sources considered, the Mayors’ Council’s vision will require an additional $110 to $390 million per year.
It gets worse; according to Translink’s 2014 operating and capital budget report, this year Translink will not be able to expand bus, Seabus or West Coast Express services, nor move ahead on a number of pressing projects on the regional priority list due to limited revenue.
If we stick to the status quo, the situation will be dire. According to Vancouver’s Metro 2040 population projections, in the next 30 or so years, the population of Metro Vancouver is expected to rise by more than one million people. With current levels of transit service and funding, it would be impossible to move that many people and goods around the region.
A “no” vote on the referendum would be devastating for the region as a whole.
Maybe you drive or don’t care about transit, so why should you have to pay for someone else’s transportation? The vision is not just about transit. Next time you’re stuck in traffic on Broadway or King George Boulevard, think about how much easier your commute would be if there were 10, 20 or even 50 per cent less traffic on the road.
When the Canada Line was built, many critics assumed that the ridership projections were false, and that the Canada Line would have no effect on congestion. The critics were proven wrong by the more than 120,000 people per day who use the Canada Line to get to work, school, and other activities. The Mayors’ Council’s vision estimates that drivers could save 20 to 30 minutes per day on some of the most congested corridors if the plan is implemented. A positive vote for new transportation funding means “yes” to less congestion.
The good news keeps on rolling. With the new transportation funding source, there would be major infrastructure projects and upgrades all over the Vancouver region. Those projects mean more jobs in engineering, construction, planning, manufacturing, energy, and all the secondary services that go along with those jobs.
As the dutiful citizens of Metro Vancouver, we have been given a great responsibility and opportunity to voice our opinions. Whether you are a student or professional, blue or white collar, millennial or senior citizen, transit-user or car driver, it doesn’t matter. If you live in Vancouver, this referendum affects you. Give your support to the new source of funding, and give support to less congestion, better transit, more jobs, and a prosperous region.