This spring, Metro Vancouver residents cast their ballots on an issue that may leave lasting changes on the public transit scene.
The vote on the Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax will gauge public opinion on a new plan to fund the development of public transit improvements that includes light rail in Surrey in Langley, increased bus service, a new Pattullo Bridge, and extending the Millennium Line SkyTrain to Arbutus Street.
The ballots, accepted until May 29, will read “Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan?”
However, critics of the new proposal are concerned that the money might not be managed properly. There are pervasive complaints about the Compass Card fare validation system that was introduced to curb fare evasion, but has so far cost nearly double the money originally stated. The system was slated for operation in spring 2013, but has since met many delays.
A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute showed that the ‘no’ side of the campaign was in the lead, with 61 per cent against the new tax versus only 27 on the ‘yes’ side.
The Peak posted a survey online for SFU students, staff, and alumni, and 80 respondents offered their opinion.
The attitude of those surveyed was generally pro-public transit, with 65 per cent not minding a new transit tax if it would definitely benefit public transit.
Further, 88 per cent responded that they were more likely to vote yes if the government published a faithful audit of government spending on public transit. Earlier in March, business tycoon Jim Pattison was announced to lead a public accountability committee, but transparency and accountability remain a hot-button issue.
Last, in contrast with the Angus Reid poll, 71 per cent of respondents said that they planned to vote ‘yes’ on the upcoming referendum.
While SFU students have vocalized their dissatisfaction of the transit service to campus, it seems that so long as it’s done properly, they are willing to pay a little extra for their ride up the mountain.